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The Chinese Zodiac | 6 Min. reading duration

The Chinese Zodiac / The chinese Horoscope

Chinese Horoscope 2021: Which Chinese zodiac sign are you?

You surely know your own zodiac sign: Whether Aquarius, Aries, Gemini or Leo, these zodiac signs and their character traits are much more common in German-speaking countries. Nevertheless, it is worth taking a look at the Chinese horoscope: It is very different from the well-known European horoscopes and shows entirely new and very interesting aspects. 

In this article, we will show you which zodiac signs there are, which characteristics they have and how to calculate your Chinese zodiac sign.  

Chinese Horoscope vs. Western Astrology

The Chinese horoscope has been in existence for around 5000 years and thus is one of the oldest astrological legacies. Unlike the European horoscope, the Chinese horoscope assigns each person to a zodiac sign according to their date of birth. The big difference to the horoscopes we are familiar with: It is not the birthday but the year of birth that is decisive. 

Instead of calculating the position of the sun, moon and other planets at the time of birth, Chinese astrology uses a calendar. This calendar serves as a basis for calculation, which is based on an interpretation. 

The following elements are part of the Chinese horoscope:

  • Five-element teaching
  • Yin and Yang
  • Astronomy of the five planets
  • Ten celestial signs
  • Chinese numbering system (twelve Earth branches)

Myths and Legends About the Origin of the 12 Chinese Zodiac Signs

How did the 12 Chinese zodiac signs come into being in the first place? There are many myths about their origins. Most sources assume that the mythological Jade Emperor Yu Di chose 12 animal signs to calculate time in ancient times. For this purpose, he is said to have organised a race through a river. The first 12 animals to reach the finish line were then assured a place as a Chinese zodiac sign.

The 12 zodiac signs are based on the order in which each of the animals reached the finish line in this race. According to the legend, the Rat was carried by the Ox and jumped off shortly before the finish. This way, the Rat secured the first place and represents the beginning of every zodiac cycle.

Chinese Zodiac Table

To help you calculate your Chinese zodiac sign, we have created a table for you. It serves as an overview of the zodiac signs as well as the corresponding birth years. To find your Chinese zodiac sign, simply search for your year of birth in the right-hand column:

Chinese Zodiac SignAssociated years of birth
Rat1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008, 2020
1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009, 2021
Tiger1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010, 2022
1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011, 2023
1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012, 2024
1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013, 2025
1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014, 2026
1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015, 2027
1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016, 2028
1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017, 2029
1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018, 2030
1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019, 2031

Each sign of the zodiac comes up every 12 years. The additional influence of the five-element teachings from Chinese philosophy creates combinations that only occur every 60 years.

Meaning of the Animals in the Chinese Horoscopes

You may be wondering why the animals picked are Tigers, Hares, Snakes and the like, and why your favourite animal may not be included. 

The choice of animals is related to the everyday life of the Chinese. Thus, the 12 animals can be divided into three categories:

  • Domestic and farm animals: These include Ox, Horse, Sheep, Rooster, Dog and Pig.
  • Wild and hunting animals: So Tiger, Monkey, Snake, Hare and Rat.
  • The mystical being “Dragon” with the special position of a Chinese symbol of luck.
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Chinese Zodiac Signs at a Glance

Intelligence, diligence, friendliness or Rather the opposite – you can find out the meaning of your Chinese zodiac sign from this short overview:

Rat: Rats have the characteristic of being attentive and adaptable. Even adverse circumstances do not stop them from breeding and prospering. Therefore, the Rat is given the meaning of endless life and prosperity.

Ox: Hardworking and simple, but above all warm-hearted, honourable and tolerant – even heroic and indomitable. These are the characteristics of a Ox. The Ox has the quality of being able to find wealth and happiness through diligence.

Tiger: Tigers are powerful, bold and just. They are born leaders, whether in their private or professional lives. The Tiger is assertive and stands up for his ideals at all times. They can drive away evil spirits and provide security and happiness.

Rabbit: Hares are described as elegant, gentle, calm and funny contemporaries. They are said to stand for naturalness and immortality.

Dragon: The Dragon is self-confident and self-determined. It is described as very direct and hot-headed. Thereby it embodies the symbol of dignity and holiness. It is credited with being able to fight evil and punish it at the same time.

Snake: Unlike in the Western view, the Snake in the Chinese horoscope does not stand for being cunning or devious. On the contrary: It is seen as the symbol of beauty, love and flexibility. The Snake is said to be able to overcome stubbornness with softness.

Horse: Horses are known for their sparkling energy. Full of power, they always remain majestic and always on the move. Horses are also known for their strong loyalty. However, they are also said to have a touch of arrogance. They stand for courage and immortality.

Sheep: Goats are gentle and friendly. They are very much in need of harmony and tend to avoid confrontation. They stand for a rich crop and wealth.

Monkey: An alert mind coupled with a high degree of ingenuity: This is how the Monkey is described in the Chinese horoscope. It is freedom-loving, courageous and wise. Its significance lies in exorcising demons and in completing a year with good fortune.

Rooster: The tenth position in the Chinese zodiac is the Rooster. People born in this zodiac are characterised by mindfulness, diligence, courage and self-confidence. The Rooster is said to provide harmony between couples and a stable home.

Dog: The Dog – as in real life – is loyal, sincere, accommodating and kind. It is also level-headed and reserved. It stands for health and peace in all seasons.

Pig: The Pig represents the last animal in the Chinese zodiac. It is considered good-natured and faithful. The Pig also comes across as uninhibited, simple and honest. It is said to be standing for peaceful coexistence.

The Influence of the 5-Elements Teachings on the Chinese Horoscope

The five elements are of great importance for the Chinese horoscope. The respective signs of the zodiac – depending on the year – are combined with one of the five elements, resulting in a total of 60 combinations. 

In Chinese astrology, the five elements are divided into:

  • Wood
  • Fire
  • Earth
  • Metal
  • Water

A meaning is attributed to each element. Wood, for example, stands for shaping. In a broad sense, this can mean the daily routine. 

Fire stands for ignition. Those who are “on Fire” for something tackle things and realise their plans. 

Earth represents something solid, for example in the sense of creating balance.

Metal is the symbol for the fruit of the Earth and offers the possibility to shape, while Water stands for dissolution: For example, it describes the end of a cycle as well as the prospect of something new. 

Closed Cycle Through Five Elements

Water is responsible for the growth of plants and thus favours the growth of Wood. Wood, on the other hand, is the ideal fuel for Fire. Metal grows from the Earth, it is mined from the Earth. From Metal, in turn, Water can be obtained by condensation. This closes the circle of the five elements.  

The 12 signs of the zodiac in Chinese astrology are each assigned to one of the five elements. This results in a 60-year cycle for the combination of zodiac signs and the respective element. For example, an “Earth Dog” only appears once every 60 years, as the 12 signs of the zodiac are multiplied by the 5 elements (to determine the frequency of occurrence of the combinations):

ElementChinese Zodiac Sign
WoodTiger, Rabbit
FireSnake, Horse
EarthOx, Dragon, Goat, Dog
MetalMonkey, Rooster
WaterPig, Rat

Chinese Horoscope: The Chinese New Year

As already mentioned, the main difference between the Chinese horoscope and the Western horoscope is that the respective zodiac sign does not appear in an annual rhythm. It only repeats every 12 years. 

The Chinese calendar consists of a combination of the lunar and solar calendar. The lunar calendar has either 12 or 13 months. A lunar year with 12 months is approx. 354 days long and thus 11 days shorter than the 365-day year known and used in the West. 

Every two or three years, a 13th month is inserted in the form of a “leap month”, which ensures that the Chinese New Year always takes place between January 21st and February 21st.

If the Year Starts Well, it Will be a Happy Year

While for most Chinese people, the Chinese New Year is the beginning of a new zodiac sign, for astrologers it is the beginning of spring, which takes place between February 3rd and 5th according to the solar calendar. 

In China, the Chinese New Year is celebrated with a New Year’s Festival, which is traditionally one of the most important events of the year, because if the year starts well, it will be a happy year.

This year, the turn of the year took place on February 12th, 2021, marking the transition into the Year of the Metal Ox. The Year of the Metal Ox will last until January 31st, 2022. After that, the year of the “Water Tiger” will begin on February 1st, 2022.

Are you interested not only in the Chinese horoscope but also in the common zodiac signs in the western horoscope? Then take a look at our article about the 12 zodiac signs!