What is Your Chinese Zodiac Sign and What does it Mean?

Published on March 11th, 2015 | by Brandon Ramsey in Horoscopes


The practices between western and eastern civilizations vary widely. For example, the Chinese Zodiac Signs have far different origins and meanings than the animal signs used in the west. The way they are calculated, and their importance are also weighed far more heavily in eastern cultures.

chinese-zodiac-sign-years

Years of the Chinese Zodiac in the past and future

There are certainly similarities to be found, since the eastern zodiac does indeed represent a “circle of animals” as the meaning of the word implies. With a basis on 12-year cycles and mathematics, this is certainly a different structure than the constellation based zodiac used in the west. Join us as explore the signs of the Chinese zodiac, and what yours means to you

What is the Current Sign for The Year, and What Sign are You?

Currently, 2015 is the year of the Goat. In 2016 it will be the year of the Monkey, and in 2017 the year of the Rooster. Much like the western zodiac those born in these years fall under the sign. These signs are hugely important in eastern culture, so much so, that in places like Taiwan, the birth rate will fall or rise drastically based on the zodiac sign for that year.

The sign that someone is born under regulates their personality, events in their lives, and more. One major difference here is that the signs themselves are all animals, as opposed to the Greek zodiac, which includes varying symbols. This eastern zodiac is not associated with the constellations or the ecliptic plane.

Beyond the sign of your year, there is also an animal for the month, day and hour as well. The month is known as your inner animal, the day your true animal, and the hour your secret animal. An example is that you were born a Snake, but you’re a Dragon internally and a Monkey secretively.

One important thing to remember is that the Chinese year does not start or end on the 1st of January. Since the calendar used by them is a lunisolar format, they begin their new year between January 21 and February 20.

The 12 Signs and Their Meanings

The twelve animals included in the zodiac were chosen specifically for two reasons. Six of them are major domestic animals that Chinese people raise, and the other six are the most loved animals by people in the country. The order always begins with the rat and goes in a specific pattern.

This pattern is based on the Chinese Yin and Yang Theory. To decide which animals are which, the number of their claws, toes, or hoofs. Based on whether these numbers are odd or even, the signs are ordered in an alternating manner between yin and yang.

The reason the rat is chosen first is because it is the only animal with four toes on its fore legs and five on its hind ones. Most animals have the same number on each limb, so this made the rat stand out. With a combination of both Yin and Yang, it was the rarest of all the animals, and rarity is a major focus in this culture. The saying associated with it is “a thing is valued in proportion to its rarity.”

Since the Yang is always dominant, the rat begins the zodiac cycle, and it sets the precedent for how each one is ordered based on the alternating odds and evens. Another thing to remember is that the Chinese culture treats the elements not as the physical ones we know, but as five different states of being.

This is part of the Wiu Xing or “Five Phases” in Chinese Philosophy. To help you better understand the element associated with your symbol, below is a small analysis of each element’s meaning:

  • Wood – growth, vitality
  • Fire – energy, swelling, flowering
  • Earth – fruition, moderation, leveling
  • Metal – harvesting, collecting
  • Water – retreat, stillness, storage

With that being said, let’s examine the 12 yearly signs and what they say about you and your personality. We’ll also inform you which signs are compatible with others and more:

  1. Rat

The first sign in the Chinese zodiac is associated with the water element and is compatible with the Dragon and the Monkey. The saying associated with them is “Wisdom without industriousness leads to triviality.” People born under this sign are usually intelligent, able to adapt, are charming, sociable and artistic.

In terms career aspirations, the personality of someone born under the rat sign lends themselves well to being in a position or creativity or power. Managers, writers, musicians, directors, or even entrepreneurs are all positions suited well for this sign.

  1. Ox

The second sign is the Ox, which is an Earth sign that is compatible with Snake and Rooster signs. People born under this sign are known to be fiercely loyal, reliable, strong, but also determined and reasonable. Their saying is “Industriousness without wisdom leads to futility.”

For your career, an Ox is best involved with manufacturing, agriculture, engineering, real estate, or other positions that require dedication and strength.

  1. Tiger

The Tiger sign is associated with the wood element and is compatible with the Horse and Dog signs. This sign predicts that the person will be ambitious, confident, charismatic, and enthusiastic. The saying associated with them is as follows: “Valor without caution lead to recklessness.”

For your career, the best options include positions like travel agent, actor, writer, artist, pilot, musician and other roles where your creativity and talent shines through.

  1. Rabbit

The Rabbit is also a sign that is associated with the wood element. It is compatible with the Sheep and Boar signs. Personality attributes for these people include empathy, sincerity, and trustworthiness. The saying associated with this sign is the following: “Caution without valor leads to cowardice.”

Career choices for this sign include education, health care, police work, politics, and so on. Anything that benefits the wider community or population will appeal to this sign.

  1. Dragon

The sign of the Dragon is associated with the Earth element and pairs well with both the Rat and Monkey signs. This sign lends itself to someone who is lucky, spiritual, charismatic, but also eccentric and imaginative. The saying associated with this sign is “Strength without flexibility leads to fracture.”

The best career goals for a Dragon sign include positions like journalist, teacher, inventor, lawyer, architect, and more. Anything that requires strength and creativity is excellent.

  1. Snake

The Snake sign is associated with the fire element, and is compatible with the Rooster and Ox signs. People with this yearly sign are known to be organized, intelligent, philosophical, and decisive. Their saying is “Flexibility without strength leads to compromise.”

The best career choices for a Snake sign are jobs like a scientist, analyst, painter, astrologer, and magician; anything that allows for you to be expressive.

  1. Horse

The sign of the Horse is one that is paired with fire and works well in relationships with Dog and Tiger signs. They are known to be loyal, courageous, ambitious, strong, and intelligent. The saying associated with them is “Forging ahead without unity leads to abandonment.”

When choosing a career path, consider some of these: sales, translator, bartender, librarian, pilot, journalist, and performer.

  1. Goat

chinese-zodiac-sheep

By Geoffrey.landis (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

As someone born with the yearly Goat sign, you are associated with the Earth element and your best companions should be Boar and Rabbit signs. Personality here is intended to be warm, elegant, charming, sensitive, and calm. The saying for this sign goes “Unity without forging ahead leads to stagnation.”

The best career choices for this sign are things like actor, teacher, interior designer, editor, anything that allows for them to work at their own pace and helping others.

  1. Monkey

The Monkey sign is intended for the metal element and is compatible with Dragon and Rat signs. The personality for this sign is someone who is charming, lucky, lively, smart, and versatile. The saying applied to this sign is “Changeability without being constant leads to foolishness.”

The best career paths for this sign are ones centered on science, engineering, accounting, and banking.

  1. Rooster

The sign of the Rooster is associated with the Metal element and is best paired with a Snake or Ox sign. These people are filled with energy; they are smart, flexible, diverse, and very confident. The saying that applies to them is this: “Being constant without changeability leads to woodenness.”

This sign’s suggested careers are sales, athletics, teacher, waiter, surgeon, and journalist.

  1. Dog

The Dog sign of the Chinese zodiac is associated with the Earth element and is most compatible with the Tiger or Rabbit sign. People under this sign are good natured and always willing to help others. They are quick to make assumptions but slow to open up to others. The saying for this sign is “Fidelity without amiability leads to rejection.”

The best careers for this sign are those under professor, politician, nurse, judge, and others like these.

  1. Boar

The final sign in this zodiac is the Boar which is a water element that is compatible with the Sheep and Rabbit signs. Personality traits for someone like this include a sense of honor, a willingness to give in the form of charitable acts, a strong sense of optimism and determination, and sincerity.

There is no defined saying for this sign, but it does have an overall attribution of good-natured, and a pleasant demeanor. For your career, choices like a doctor, veterinarian, entertainer, or caretaker are also great choices to fit this personality.

Why is it Bad Luck When Your Zodiac Year Comes Around?

The cycle repeats every twelve years. This means that your sign is going to reappear when you’re 12, 24, 36, and so on. Each time your sign comes around, Chinese superstition states that you will offend the God of Age, Tai Sui, and have bad luck that year. Don’t worry though; there are some ways you can get around this bad luck:

  • Wear red, but it must be something given to you by an elder as a gift. Red is a lucky color in Chinese culture, it drives away bad luck and spirits.
  • Any accessories made from jade are also good like necklaces, earrings, rings, and bracelets.
  • Facing yourself and your furniture in the opposite direction of Tai Sui. For example, in the year of the Goat people will turn their furniture and beds to face southwest and try to place themselves in that direction as much as possible.

Final Thoughts

The Chinese Zodiac Signs are incredibly unique in the fact that they tell so much about someone based on the year, hour, day, and minute they were born. These twelve signs are not a science, but they are an integral part of eastern culture in a number of countries. Knowing your sign can help you gain a sense of perspective as well, even if you don’t follow it to the letter.

Thanks as always for reading, and remember to wear red clothing gifted to you from a loved one when your year comes back around to avoid bad luck!



About the Author
Brandon Ramsey

Brandon Ramsey is the head author and editor of The Time Now Blog. Be sure to follow us via social media!


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