Red lanterns hang from a string during the Chinese New Year, signifying a new animal is ruling the year.

What is the Chinese Zodiac?

Known as Sheng Xiao, the Chinese Zodiac is an ancient categorization system that delineates certain themes and characteristics through a complex, 60-year cycle based on the Chinese lunar calendar. Although no one knows exactly when the Chinese Zodiac was created, its beginnings can be traced back to the Han Dynasty - over 2,000 years ago.

If you are familiar with western astrology, Chinese astrology also has 12 signs that are represented by animals. The Chinese zodiac has rising signs, love compatibility, and elements but they are completely different than what you are used to. The animal and element that rule the year you were born reveal specific information about your personality, your strengths and weaknesses, and the themes expected to appear during the year ahead.

What will your Chinese Zodiac animal reveal about you?

What is My Chinese Zodiac Sign?

Your Chinese Zodiac sign is determined by your birth year, use this free Chinese Zodiac Sign Calculator to find yours. Enter your birthday below!

Free Daily Chinese Horoscopes

Click on Your Chinese Zodiac Animal to Read Your Daily Chinese Horoscope

What is the Chinese Zodiac Sign for 2020?

The Chinese Zodiac animal for 2020 is the Rat, which is a yang animal. The Rat is the 1st animal in the Chinese Zodiac. Since each year is also associated with one of the five Chinese elements, 2020’s element is Metal.

In Chinese culture, Rats are symbolic of the start of a new cycle, or a transition between opposites. Intelligent, ambitious, stubborn, and quick, the Rat relies on brains over brawn to succeed.

What is the Chinese Zodiac Sign for 2021?

The Chinese Zodiac animal in 20201 is the Ox, which is a yin animal. They are fundamentally ruled by the Earth element meaning that they are grounded, this combined with 2020’s element of Metal makes this a particularly profitable and accomplished year for all who put in the effort.

As the second sign in the new cycle, the Ox is reliable, determined, and grounded, relying on routine, hardwork and planning to find success.

Cute small figurines of each Chinese zodiac animal sit on a pink background.
From left to right: Snake, tiger, horse, rat, chicken, rabbit, pig, sheep, dog, ox, dragon, and money.

The Story of the Chinese Zodiac

There are many different stories explaining how the Chinese Zodiac came to be. Since no one knows for sure exactly when the Chinese Zodiac was created, many legends were created and passed down over centuries.

Perhaps the most well-known legend posits that Buddha asked the animals to participate in a race wherein the first 12 animals to finish the race would receive a position in the Chinese Zodiac. The animal who finished first would be awarded the first position in the Chinese Zodiac, and the rest would appear in the Zodiac in the order they completed the race.


The Rat is the first sign of the Chinese Zodiac and a member of the First Trine. Their counterpart in the Western Zodiac is Sagittarius. They are ambitious, clever and resourceful, but can also be ruthless, stubborn and picky.


The Ox is the second sign of the Chinese Zodiac and a member of the Second Trine. Their counterpart in the Western Zodiac is Capricorn. They are persistent, determined and generous, but can also be self-opinionated, inflexible and stubborn.


The Tiger is the third sign of the Chinese Zodiac and a member of the Third Trine. Their counterpart in the Western Zodiac is Aquarius. They are courageous, daring and big-hearted, but they can also be reckless, over-sensitive and argumentative.


The Rabbit is the fourth sign of the Chinese Zodiac and a member of the Fourth Trine. Their counterpart in the Western Zodiac is Pisces. They are refined, selfless and gentle, but they can also be hesitant, timid and pessimistic.


The Dragon is the fifth sign of the Chinese Zodiac and a member of the First Trine. Their counterpart in the Western Zodiac is Aries. They are powerful, magnetic and just, but they can also be domineering, demanding and intolerant.


The Snake is the sixth sign of the Chinese Zodiac and a member of the Second Trine. Their counterpart in the Western Zodiac is Taurus. They are well-mannered, sophisticated and attractive, but they can also be vengeful, suspicious and stingy.


The Horse is the seventh sign of the Chinese Zodiac and a member of the Third Trine. Their counterpart in the Western Zodiac is Gemini. They are independent, free-spirited and warm-hearted, but they can also be anxious, gossipy and blunt.


The Goat is the eighth sign of the Chinese Zodiac and a member of the Fourth Trine. Their counterpart in the Western Zodiac is Cancer. They are creative, romantic and kind-hearted, but they can also be moody, vain and shallow.


The Monkey is the ninth sign of the Chinese Zodiac and a member of the First Trine. Their counterpart in the Western Zodiac is Leo. They are intelligent, curious and chatty, but they can also be haughty, competitive and egotistical.


The Rooster is the tenth sign of the Chinese Zodiac and a member of the Second Trine. Their counterpart in the Western Zodiac is Virgo. They are confident, hard-working and smart, but can also be critical, cocky and preachy.


The Dog is the eleventh sign of the Chinese Zodiac and a member of the Third Trine. Their counterpart in the Western Zodiac is Libra. They are loyal, protective and honest, but they can also be paranoid, anxious and temperamental.


The Pig is the twelfth sign of the Chinese Zodiac and a member of the Fourth Trine. Their counterpart in the Western Zodiac is Scorpio. They are compassionate, trusting and sincere, but they can also be impulsive, gullible and hot-tempered.

Which Chinese Zodiac Animal Are you?

How the Chinese Zodiac Works

The Chinese Zodiac is based on a complex 60-year cycle system that assigns an animal and one of the five Chinese elements (Fire, Earth, Water, Wood, and Metal) to each year. Unlike Western astrology, Chinese astrology is based on the 12 Full Moons of each year, known as the lunar calendar. It also closely follows the planet Jupiter’s 11.85-year orbital period. While the animals of the Chinese Zodiac are on a 12-year cycle, since there are 5 possible elemental combinations for each animal, the entire Chinese Zodiac cycle is only fully complete every 60 years.

In the Chinese Zodiac, your birth year represents your position and role in the 60-year cycle rather than just simply your individual personality. Although you might think you’ll be luckier when it’s your Chinese Zodiac animal’s year, quite the opposite is the case. Instead, you can expect to meet more challenges and hardship in order to experience the necessary growth and transformation you need to carry on along your life’s journey.

Two pigs are in love in front of a pink pearl heart, representing compatibility between two Chinese zodiac animals within Chinese Astrology.

Chinese Zodiac Love Compatibility

Looking for your Chinese zodiac love match?

Your perfect match in Chinese astrology is reliant on your sign, year of birth, and your element.

It is believed that chinese zodiac animals that are six years apart are incompatible while those that are four years apart are the most compatible.

Discover your perfect love compatibility match here.

Animal Sign Best Match(es) Worst Match(es)
Rat Dragon, Monkey Horse
Ox Snake, Rooster Goat
Tiger Horse, Dog Rabbit, Pig
Rabbit Tiger, Dragon Rooster
Dragon Rat, Monkey Dog
Snake Rooster Pig
Horse Tiger, Dog Rat
Goat Rabbit, Pig Ox
Monkey Rat, Dragon Tiger
Rooster Ox, Snake Rabbit
Dog Tiger Dragon
Pig Goat, rabbit Snake, tiger


In Chinese culture, there are five elements that cycle through 12 year cycles. Additionally, each element is associated with one of the inner planets of the solar system and a direction used in fengshui.

Element 12-year Cycle Direction (Fengshui) Planetary Association
Wood 1924-1935, 1984-95 East Venus
Fire 1936-1947, 1996-2007 South Jupiter
Earth 1948-1959, 2008-2019 Center Mercury
Metal 1960-1971, 2020-2031 West Mars
Water 1972-1983, 2032-43 North Saturn

Each element is also correlated with a color, a part of the physical body, a direction, a season, and the five senses.

Although these elements are different from the ones used in Western Astrology, all are naturally occurring and are believed to be connected with one another. Each element imbues its characteristics upon the Chinese Zodiac animal it is assigned to that year. So, although you might have been born in the year of the Rabbit, someone born in a past or future Rabbit year will have a different element assigned to their Chinese Zodiac animal than you do.

About the 5 Elements
Metal Element

Metal is a strong sign and Metal people tend to be very strong, especially on the inside. They will defend their loved ones with a passion and they can be very ambitious, as well as successful. They can also be tyrannical and ruthless if they let power get to their head. In the Chinese Zodiac, the Monkey and Rooster are represented by Metal.

Water Element

Water people are more sensitive and emotional than the other elements. They are always there for their loved ones and will often champion the underdog. They can be too trusting with their feelings. In the Chinese Zodiac, the Pig and Rat are represented by Water.

Wood Element

Wood people are communicative and expressive. They will undergo tasks with enthusiasm but can sometimes overestimate themselves. They like to work with others to achieve goals, but they can be reckless. In the Chinese Zodiac, the Tiger and Rabbit are represented by Wood.

Fire Element

Fire people are dramatic and expressive. They have intense energy and are often born leaders. These people feel strongly about issues and are not afraid to show it. However, what they have in enthusiasm they lack in self-control and moderation. In the Chinese Zodiac, the Snake and Horse are represented by Fire.

Earth Element

Earth people are level-headed and down to earth. They are hard-workers and when they set their sights on something they will work towards it, even if it takes a long time. They can be stubborn and inflexible, especially with their beliefs. In the Chinese Zodiac, the Ox, Dragon, Goat and Dog are represented by Earth.

Three gold pendants are towered in a triangle on a red background with cherry blossoms in the background. This represents the trines in the Chinese zodiac.


There are 4 trines in the Chinese Astrology, categorized because they have similar underlying wants and goals. These three animals are known to be in harmony with each other and often relate in many ways. Animals in the same trine will also have the same enemies, meaning that the Rat, Dragon and Monkey in the 1st trine will have conflict with the same signs, but for different reasons.

Trine Animal Signs
1st Trine Rat, Dragon, Monkey
2nd Trine Ox, Snake, Rooster
3rd Trine Tiger, Dog, Horse
4th Trine Rabbit, Pig, Goat

Want more? Here’s what you need to understand about the 4 Trines of The Chinese Zodiac.

A yin and yang symbol sits in a leaf, the background contains green forestry.

Yin & Yang

Each animal in the Chinese Zodiac and each element is associated with either Yin or Yang.

In Chinese philosophy, Yin and Yang represent the interdependence and interconnection between opposing forces. Yin and Yang come together to create a whole, achieving a harmonious balance. If one is affected, so is the other.

Yin: Internal, receptive

  • Yin Chinese Zodiac Animals: Snake, Goat, Rooster, Pig, Ox, Rabbit
  • Yin Elements: Water, Metal

Yang: External, active

  • Yang Chinese Zodiac Animals: Dragon, Horse, Monkey, Dog, Rat, Tiger
  • Yang Elements: Wood, Fire

Note: The element of Earth is considered as balanced yin-yang.

Want to know if you’re more Yin or yang? Take our Yin & Yang Energy Quiz.

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