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.

There are 12 Chinese Zodiac animals. 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?

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

What is My Chinese Zodiac Sign?

Your Chinese Zodiac sign is determined by your birth year. Locate your birth year above and click the Chinese Zodiac animal that corresponds, or enter your birthday in the Find Your Sign tool below.

Learn More About Each Chinese Zodiac Animal

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 transitionbetween opposites. Intelligent, ambitious, stubborn, and quick, the Rat relies on brains over brawn to succeed.


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.


In Chinese culture, there are five elements, each associated with one of the inner planets of the solar system:

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

Although these elements are different than 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.

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.


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 poses 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.

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