How to Determine Your Animal Sign on the Chinese Calendar

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One of several Chinese legends has it that Buddha proposed a race for all the animals: The first 12 animals to cross a river of his choice would each be appointed one of 12 years, constituting one cycle of the Chinese calendar. Thus, it is said that everyone has the characteristics of the animal appointed to the year of his or her birth.

  • If you were born in January or February, determine when the lunar year began on the year of your birth. The Chinese zodiac is based on the lunar year, which begins at different times each year; the lunar new year can fall any time during January or February.

  • Examine the order of the animal years, based on the order in which the animals in Buddha's race arrived at the other side of the river. In first place was the rat, followed by the ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and, last but not least, the pig.

  • Determine your birth animal based on the 12-year cycle of the Chinese calendar.

  • For example, embrace the rat if you were born in 1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984 or 1996. The year of the ox includes 1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, etc., followed by the tiger in 1926, the rabbit in 1927, the dragon in 1928, the snake in 1929, the horse in 1930, the goat in 1931, the monkey in 1932, the rooster in 1933, the dog in 1934 and finally, the pig in 1935.

  • Use the years listed above for the year of the rat to determine your animal sign. For example, if you were born in 1979, that was seven years after the year of the rat (1972). Count seven animals past the rat and you'll discover that you were born in the year of the goat.

Tips & Warnings

  • Remember that the cycle follows the following order: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and pig. This means, for example, that in any given 12-year span, an ox year will always follow a rat year and precede a tiger year.

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