The Chinese Zodiac
Chinese New Year is on Friday, January 31, 2014. It marks the start of the Year of the Wood Horse in the Chinese zodiac.
The horse 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 2014 is the Year of the Wood Horse, 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 Horse
The Year of the Wood Horse (Wu) starts on January 31, 2014, and ends on February 18, 2015, in the Gregorian calendar. It comes after the Year of the Snake (Si) and before the Year of the Sheep (Wei) in the Chinese calendar. During Spring Festival, people put up symbols of the horse, as well as the "happiness" sign, in their homes.
People born in the Year of the Horse are believed to be hard-working, high-spirited, smart, sophisticated and talented. It is also thought that Horses do not like to be restrained and tend to be impatient.
Careers and Compatibility
According to superstition, if you are born in the Year of the Horse, you are most content as a journalist, lawyer, publicist, or within the fields of sport or travel. It is also believed that the Horse is most compatible with the Dog and the Tiger, but least compatible with the Monkey and the Rat.
Famous people born in a Year of the Horse include:
- Barbra Streisand (singer)
- Gordon Ramsay (chef)
- Jerry Seinfeld (comedian)
- Neil Armstrong (asronaut)
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.