The Chinese Zodiac
Chinese New Year is on Thursday, February 19, 2015. It marks the start of the Year of the Wood Sheep in the Chinese zodiac.
The sheep is one of 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac (Shēngxiào, or 生肖), which is based on a 12-year cycle.
How does the Chinese zodiac work?
Each of the 12 years in the Chinese zodiac cycle is represented by an animal associated with five elemental signs. The animals are:
- Zi (rat)
- Chou (ox)
- Yin (tiger)
- Mao (rabbit)
- Chen (dragon)
- Si (snake)
- Wu (horse)
- Wei (sheep)
- Shen (monkey)
- You (rooster)
- Xu (dog)
- Hai (boar/pig)
The zodiac traditionally starts with the Year of the Rat and cycles continuously. These animal signs are calculated in accordance with the Chinese calendar, which is lunisolar and predates the Gregorian calendar. The Chinese calendar is based on exact astronomical observances of the sun’s longitude and the moon’s phases.
Zodiac animal and human connections
According to the Chinese zodiac, your birth year tells you more than just your age. It is believed that there is a special relationship between people and the animals in the Chinese zodiac. This belief, which can be traced back to the Han Dynasty (206 BCE – 220 CE), is based on the idea that one's personality is affected by the animal their birth year is associated with.
It is also believed that some relationships are more compatible than others depending on one’s zodiac (like the western astrological zodiac based on months). Unlike the western zodiac, the Chinese zodiac animals are not associated with constellations.
There are also 5 elements in the zodiac associated with the animals and their personalities:
As the year 2015 is the Year of the Wood Sheepe, it is believed that those born under under this sign are going to have a good year, with plenty of luck and opportunities ahead.
The Year of the Sheep
The Year of the Wood Sheep (Wei) starts on February 19, 2015, and ends on February 7, 2016, in the Gregorian calendar. It comes after the Year of the Horse and before the Year of the Monkey in the Chinese calendar. During Spring Festival, people put up symbols of the sheep, as well as the "happiness" sign, in their homes.
People born in the Year of the Sheep are thought to be loyal, good natured and kind. They are belived to be introverts who can easily be overtaken by emotion.
Careers and Compatibility
According to superstition, those born in the Year of the Sheep tend to be adaptable and highly motivated and commited to their work. It is also believed that the Sheep is most compatible with the Pig and the Dragon, but least compatible with the Rooster and the Tiger.
Famous people born in a Year of the Sheep include:
- Michelangelo (architect, sculptor, painter)
- Mark Twain (author)
- Thomas Edison (inventor)
- Julia Roberts (actor)
What year were you born in?
This table shows which animal sign you are, based on the year you were born in.
|Animal||Year (Gregorian calendar)||Personality characteristics|
|Rat||Imaginative, generous, successful, popular, curious|
|Ox||Confident, honest, patient, conservative, strong|
|Tiger||Sensitive, tolerant, brave, active, resilient|
|Rabbit||Affectionate, kind, gentle, compassionate, merciful|
|Dragon||Enthusiastic, intelligent, lively, energetic, innovative|
|Snake||Charming, intuitive, romantic, highly perceptive, polite|
|Horse||Diligent, friendly, sophisticated, talented, clever|
|Sheep/ Goat||Artistic, calm, reserved, happy, kind|
|Monkey||Witty, lively, flexible, humorous, curious|
|Rooster||Shrewd, honest, communicative, motivated, punctual|
|Dog||Loyal, honest, responsible, courageous, warm-hearted||Pig||Sincere, tolerant, hard-working, honest, optimistic|
Did you know?
Leap years occur every 3 years in the Chinese calendar.
The Chinese calendar normally features 12 months but occasionally has a leap year consisting of 13 months. The next Chinese leap year will be in 2015, the Year of the Sheep.
Disclaimer: This is a general interest article based on traditions and beliefs, and not on scientific evidence.