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The 12 Chinese Animal Signs (Chinese Zodiac)

2018/7/19 12:21:00316 People viewed this article

The 12 Chinese Animal Signs (Chinese Zodiac) are very important part of Chinese traditional culture. It appeared with the lunar calendar in the Eastern Han dynasty (25-220 AD). In Chinese tradition, the number of “12” is a circular number. Actually, it represents the 12 earthly branches. The ancient Chinese people selected 12 animals to represent a circle of12 years.


Legend goes that in order to count year and time, Jade Emperor, the highest emperor who control this world, planed to choose 12 animals to represent year. So he asked all animals to visit him on New Year’s Day. The 12 kinds of animals arrived earlier than other animals and became the Year Sign. They were the Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Ram, Monkey, Chicken, Dog and Pig.


Cat and Rat were good friends and they decided the one who waked early would awaken his friend. The rat waked early but did not awaken his friend cat. So the cat was not in the 12 Year Signs list. That logically explains why cat hat rat. 


Each animal represents one year. Everybody also has his own animal sign, like the constellation in the west. Because of its special status in traditional Chinese culture, the image of 12 animal signs can be found in many places in China. In Chinese native custom, people usually use the seals to replace their signature. Therefore, the seal becomes the symbol of the person. So, the carving on the seal top is normally the owner’s animal sign.


Like the constellation in the west, each animal sigh has its own special characteristic. Many Chinese people strongly believe that the time of a person’s birth is the primary factor in determining that person’s personality. The characteristics of each animal sign are:


The Rat is an opportunist, cleaver, open-minded but aggressive. Shakespeare, Mozart, and Washington were born in the year of the rat.


The Ox is extremely determined and works tirelessly to get what it wants. It is fair-mined and a good listener, but maybe a little stubborn. Walt Disney, Charles Chaplin, Vincent van Gogh and Richard Nixon were born in the year of the ox.


The Tiger is the king of the beasts in China. It is active, emotional and independent. Marilyn Monroe, Sun Yet’san, Karl Marx, Beethoven and Marco Polo were born in the year of the tiger.


The Rabbit is considerate, gentle, attentive, peaceable, but a little self-conceited. Napoleon and Albert Einstein were born in the year of the rabbit.


The Chinese Dragon is majestic and full of vitality and enthusiasm. Pearl Buck, Freud and Martin Luther King were born in the year of the dragon.


The Snake is an artist, sociable but sensitive. Picasso, Darwin and Lincoln were born in the year of the snake.


The Horse is self-reliant and energetic and can overcome every difficulty. But sometimes horses are hot-blooded and hot-tempered. Chopin, Thomas Edison and Teddy Roosevelt were born in the year of the horse.


The Ram is virtuous, kindly and gentle. Mark Twain was born the year of the ram.


The Monkey is quick-witted, innovative, brave but irritable. Elizabeth Taylor and Leonardo da Vinci were born in the year of the monkey.


The Chicken is confident, creative and proud. Confucius was born in the year of chicken.


The Dog is honest, straightforward, and friendly. Famous people born in the year of the dog are Michael Jackson, Madonna, Winston Churchill, and Benjamin Franklin.


The Pig is honest, generous, sociable, dependable, and extremely determined. Ernest Hemingway was born in the year of the pig.


When a person was born in the year of a certain animal, every 12th year of this animal after his birth becomes his “Benmingnian”. According to the ancient custom, this indicates that in every that year, he will wear red coat and socks to ward off devils.