12 Chinese Animals & Their Meanings

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12 Chinese Animal & Their Meanings

Chinese astrology has zodiac signs that reveal your personality traits and they are symbolized by animals.

You have a Chinese animal sign, just like you do a Western zodiac sign.

What is a Chinese animal sign?

Chinese animal signs are based upon the year that you were born, and there are twelve.

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The Chinese zodiac is a 12-year repeating cycle.

People have said that the Chinese animal you fall under can pre-determine a lot about your character and your values.

However, like star signs, some zodiac signs can be luckier on specific years, specific dates, and some are more compatible with some animal signs than others.

In Chinese astrology, your Ben Ming Nian is your zodiac year of birth.

This means that as a zodiac completes a 12 -year cycle, your Chinese animal year will come around every 12, 24, 36 years.

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It is important to know what Chinese animal your year falls under, so come the lunar new year in January and February you can learn to take good care of your zodiac sign.

Chinese animals: The Rat

1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008, 2020

The rat is the first of every zodiac calendar and represents the beginning of the new day.

The legend goes that the zodiac animals were chosen through a race: there could only be 12 winners, and each animal had to cross a rapid current to reach the finish line.

The rat, according to myth, finished first because it hopped on the back of the ox, and jumped off just as the ox was about to reach the finish line.

Because of this, the rat finished the race first, and anyone born under the sign is often known to be quick-witted and resourceful.

However, contrary to the myth, many people born under the rat are incredibly kind people.

The rat is also often associated with an abundance or excess of wealth.

The rat is a particular favorite with married couples during the new year.

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Chinese animals: The Ox

1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009, 2021

The Ox, as shown in the myth, is known to be dependable, strong, and determined.

Because of this, the ox is associated with the Earth and is often prayed to for good fortune in agriculture.

People born under the ox sign are often diligent workers, but sometimes fade into the background:

they do not demand a lot of praise. Because of how logical and patient they are, many ox signs can make great leaders.

Chinese animals: The Tiger

1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010, 2022

The Tiger is competitive, brave, and confident — so you can imagine its disappointment when it had to settle for last when the rat leaped to first off the ox’s back.

Tigers are adventurous, courageous, and rich in emotions. Even though they are prone to impulsive decisions, tigers will not give up.

Due to their loud and unyielding nature, tigers are seen as the guardian of children.

Baby shoes and hats with tigers are incredibly popular because they help ward the child away from bad luck.

Tiger signs who grow up to be parents are also known to be good parents because they know how and when to give their child the freedom and respect to grow.

Chinese animals: The Rabbit

1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011, 2023

The rabbit ended up fourth in the race because according to the myth it was arrogant of its speed.

Setting off at daybreak, the rabbit didn’t see any animals near the finish line.

Because the area was empty, it thought it already won and could afford to take a nap.

But when it got up, it found that three animals reached the finish line before it did.

So while people born under the rabbit are often arrogant, they are still very earnest people.

This they share with the ox: rabbits are honest people, however, they ask people to give them the same respect in return.

In Chinese culture, the rabbit represents the moon, because it resembles the moon’s shadows.

Others say it is due to the rabbit’s pure nature.

Chinese animals: The Dragon

1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012, 2024

Dragons are intelligent, confident, and enthusiastic; they are also the most respected animal in Chinese culture.

The myth goes that everyone expected the dragon to arrive at the finish line a lot earlier than it did.

When the Jade Emperor asked what took it so long, the dragon answered that on the way to the race, it saw a village suffering from drought, and had to stop and create rain.

The dragon is powerful, which is why emperors often claim they are the descendants of dragons.

People born under the dragon are then incredibly responsible and steadfast. They will always stick to their morals, which is why they make charismatic leaders and business entrepreneurs.

Chinese animals: The Snake

1929, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013, 2025

People born under the snake are known to be enigmatic and wise. Unfortunately, the snake arrived at the same time as the dragon, but due to its size, the Jade Emperor completely overlooked the snake.

Snakes are often symbols of bad luck, associated with witchcraft and evil. But in Chinese Mythology, the creator of the world has a human head and snake body.

People born under the snake are known to be humorous with a complex mind — they do not like small talk but are very loving people.

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Chinese animals: The Horse

1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014, 2026

The horse arrived seventh because it came across a cemetery, and was so scared it had to run past it full speed with its eyes closed.

People under the horse sign are often animated, energetic, yet easy to spook.

The horse represents freedom and speed but will need a lot of space for themselves.

They have short tempers and are prone to anger, but do not hold grudges.

The horse chases after happiness rather than material wealth.

Chinese animals: The Goat

1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015, 2027

The Goat is known to be gentle and sympathetic.

The goat is also the unluckiest sign in the zodiac, sorry!

The goat had to struggle by itself to cross the finish line, and after a hard and arduous journey, it finally finished eighth.

Sheep are loving and selfless, almost to a point a fault, even when it serves against their self-interest.

In 2014, many couples rushed to get pregnant before 2015, the “dreaded” year of the sheep because of the bad luck it brings — so much so officials had to come out and dissuade people from believing the sheep myth.

Sheep are not all bad though.

According to Chinese culture, sheep are meek, yet are very filial.

They are quiet observers and are very generous with their time and money.

Chinese animals: The Monkey

1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016, 2028

The Monkey is smart and curious. Ninth in the race, monkeys are very mischievous and lighthearted.

Due to their intelligence, they are known to be very arrogant — the most famous prankster god in China’s most seminal work Journey to the West is a monkey named Sun Wu Kong.
They are most commonly associated with the peach, which is a symbol of longevity. While they may be arrogant, they see everyone as their teacher.

Chinese animals: The Rooster

1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017, 2029

Roosters are complex people who seem strong, but deep down need a lot of validation.

They are known to protect against evil spirits, as emperors have dripped rooster blood in their oaths to the heavens.

Due to their guardian-like nature, roosters are straightforward and decisive.

They do not tolerate obstacles in their path and often will get into arguments that they ensure they will win.

Chinese animals: The Dog

1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018, 2030

Man’s true partner, dogs are known to be loyal, honest, and reliable.

Dogs often mean “prosperous wealth,” or “Wang Cai” in Chinese, because their barking sounds “Wang-Wang” sounds similar to the character used for money and prosperity.

Chinese animals: The Pig

1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019, 2031

The final zodiac, the pig, is not thought of as a particularly smart animal.

The legend goes that the reason it was last in the race was that it overslept.

However, pigs are believed to be very fortunate animals — their low intelligence means that it behaves itself, does not harm others, and therefore is regarded with generosity and giving wealth.

Pigs are known to have a very beautiful personality to match their good fortune.

Easygoing, optimistic, pigs enjoy life, revel in entertainment, and do not let spendthrift rule their lives.

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Jessica is a writer who covers astrology, media, and culture.