Chinese Astrology & Zodiac Signs Explained

Chinese Zodiac Signs Explained

China has a rich and fascinating history of astrology and zodiac signs that dates back thousands of years. Chinese astrology has many unique features and differences from Western astrology that offer profound insights into your personality, destiny, and compatibility with others.

What Are the 12 Chinese Zodiac Signs?

The Chinese zodiac consists of a repeating 12-year lunar cycle, with each year being represented by one of 12 animals in the following order:

Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, Pig

Each animal represents different personality traits based on various myths and folklore.

For example, the Rat is witty, intelligent and adaptable, while the Ox is strong, honest and dependable. The Rabbit is compassionate, gracious and sincere while the Rooster is enthusiastic, outspoken and observant.

Much like the Western zodiac, your personality and many aspects in your life are thought to be influenced by your Chinese zodiac sign.

What Are the 5 Elements?

In Chinese astrology, each year of birth is also linked one of the five elements:

Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, Water

When the elements combine with the 12 zodiac animals in a recurring 60-year calendar cycle, they form the foundation of Chinese astrology.

The elements offer further insight into your inner spirit, emotions, preferences and more. Let’s look at what each represents:

Wood: Creative, imaginative, broad-minded
Fire: Dynamic, motivating, passionate
Earth: Stable, harmonious, conscientious
Metal: Determined, strong-willed, powerful
Water: Clever, persuasive, diplomatic

So someone born in the Year of the Metal Dog would display traits of independence, loyalty and protectiveness combined with willpower and strength.

The complex interactions between all 12 zodiac signs and the 5 elements deeply influences one’s personality and destiny based on Chinese astrology.

How Do Chinese Zodiac Signs Work?

In Chinese astrology, your sign is determined by the year you were born rather than a birth month like in Western astrology.

Each zodiac year begins and ends around Chinese New Year, typically in late January or early February on the Gregorian calendar.

Rat Years: 2008, 1996, 1984, 1972, 1960
Ox Years: 2009, 1997, 1985, 1973, 1961
Tiger Years: 2010, 1998, 1986, 1974, 1962
And so forth year-by-year for each animal sign.

So if you were born in July 1985, your Chinese zodiac sign would be Ox. Someone born in March 1961 would be a Rat.

It gets complicated if you were born early in the year around the shifting Chinese New Year. We’ll cover special cases to determine your true sign later.

What Personality Traits Match My Sign?

Beyond basic descriptions, each Chinese zodiac sign is associated with a wealth of personality characteristics, destinies and unique traits.

Let’s explore what your sign likely means about your predominant traits and behaviors:


Positive Qualities: Adaptable, intelligent, crafty, charming, quick-witted

Negative Qualities: Stubborn, manipulative, conniving, critical gossip

Enthusiastic and inventive Rats thrive when given freedom to strategize big goals then utilize their clever creativity to achieve them.


Positive Qualities: Dependable, calm, disciplined, logical, steadfast

Negative Qualities: Stubborn, narrow-minded, fearful, prone to uncontrolled bursts of anger

Oxen are diligent workers who believe sustained effort on meaningful work will lead to the good life they seek and family stability they cherish.


Positive Qualities: Confident, charismatic, ambitious, courageous, magnetic

Negative Qualities: Short-tempered, restless, impulsiveness leads to poor decisions

Tigers believes they are destined for greatness and want to be revered. But first they must avoid impulsive choices by exhibiting well-controlled discipline.


Positive Qualities: Trustworthy, responsible, peaceful, gracious, kind-hearted

Negative Qualities: Often too accommodating with tendency to give away too much

The noble Rabbit selflessly performs good deeds and expects nothing in return. Alas, with too little identity of their own, Rabbits can be manipulated if not discerning.


Positive Qualities: Ambitious trailblazers and risk-takers, eccentric, intelligent, passionate

Negative Qualities: Arrogant, short-tempered, impulsive risk takers, know-it-alls

Dragons have dynamic personalities and thrive on challenge. They can achieve great success if able to balance self-assurance with empathy when leading others towards the unconventional.


Positive Qualities: Wise, discreet, agile at work, persuasive, lucky, subtle charm

Negative Qualities: Jealousy, distrusting, tendency for extremes of behavior

The privacy-valuing Snake works quietly behind the scenes to balance prudence and ambition to get what they truly deserve in life, love and money.


Positive Qualities: Animated, active, energetic, independent, capable

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Negative Qualities: Impatient, hot-blooded, poor money manager, unreliable

Horses crave absolute freedom to explore new horizons. If tempered, their boundless energy produces thriving careers and adventurous world travels.


Positive Qualities: Gentle, tender-hearted, creative, artistic, determined dreamer

Negative Qualities: Indecisive, disorganized, worried, frequently dissatisfied

Imaginative Goats prefer leading with their heart over head and should trust their intuitive intelligence to birth beautiful ideas that inspire themselves and others.


Positive Qualities: Quick-witted, captivating, innovative, opportunistic, problem solver

Negative Qualities: Careless, restless, manipulative trickster

Clever Monkeys thrive when applying ingenious solutions to interesting challenges but their capricious nature must be constructively controlled.


Positive Qualities: Practical, resourceful, courageous, talented communicator

Negative Qualities: Vain, critical braggart

Roosters trust efficiency in all matters from work to appearance. Though their truthful observations hurt feelings at times, Roosters intend to motivate others to match their competence.


Positive Qualities: Just, honest, cautious, kind, loyal

Negative Qualities: Sensitive worrier, cynical, pessimistic, stubborn

The noble Dog will defend their beliefs with courage and fight injustice. But anxiety can overwhelm driving Dogs to become hypercritical curmudgeons. Stay positive, Dogs!


Positive Qualities: Honorable, generous, easy going, sincere lucky

Negative Qualities: Naive, over-reliant on others, insecure

Cherished for their gentle good nature, Pigs enjoy life most when sharing prosperity with many friends. But too much trust can lead to Pigs being deceived and used to excess.

As you can see, while strengths exist for every sign, inherent weaknesses must also be recognized and managed to prevent one’s destiny from being undermined by their darker natures.

Now let’s examine how Chinese astrology interprets outlook and approach to critical areas of life.

What’s My Destiny By Element and Zodiac Sign?

Chinese zodiac signs explained
Image Source/Oprah Daily

Beyond personality, Chinese astrology offers predictions about various aspects of fate and destiny influenced by your sign’s fixed characteristics and its interactions with elemental forces each year.

Outlook on: Happiness, Love & Relationships, Career, Money & Finance, Family, Health & Lifestyle

On Happiness…

Wood Signs (Tiger, Rabbit) value emotional and spiritual fulfillment but can worry excessively. Tigers benefit from managing volatility while peaceful Rabbits must advocate for needs.

Fire Signs (Snake, Horse) possess powerful life-force energy to profoundly enjoy sensual pleasures and exciting adventures. Must temper self-absorption.

Earth Signs (Ox, Dragon, Goat) seek harmony between abundant physical comforts and steady financial security, ideally within a stable family. Oxen are industrious, Dragons are fickle risk-takers sometimes needing rescue, while anxious Goats never feel they have enough wealth.

Metal Signs (Monkey, Rooster) find joy through constant life improvement projects and gathering influence. Monkeys must resist mischief while Roosters’ vanity annoys.

Water Signs (Rat, Pig) want to feel valued within a large, loving family-like group. Appreciative Pigs vs manipulative Rats. Caution both against gullibility being taken advantage.

On Love & Relationships…

Rats seek advantageous partnerships strategically though sometimes too manipulative. Oxen need trust, intimacy and shared values to open their guarded hearts.
Tigers have magnetic personas and thrive on excitement but crave admiration most. Rabbits require steadfast kindness to feel safe in trusting a long-term commitment.
Dragons are most enchanted by someone able to engage their eccentric imagination.
Snakes desire a profound spiritual and intimate bond but struggle to trust lovers.
Horses fall fast and hard but lose interest once intensity fades. Engage their freedom.
Goats fantasize perfection that doesn’t exist. Must accept reality to sustain intimacy.
Monkeys need a fun, dynamic partner who can match wits and be trusted. Roosters want someone polished that will further elevate social status.
Dogs loyalty comes naturally once trust is gained. Bond is life-long and protective.
Pigs have gigantic hearts wanting intimacy with everyone. Must avoid deception.

On Careers & Wealth…

Rats excel as creative leaders and crafty entrepreneurs once discovering niche ambitions.
Oxen build steady wealth through persistent hard work at meaningful, productive labor.
Tigers leverage courage and charisma to rapidly ascend to powerful leadership roles in turbulent times once impulse control mastered.
Rabbits thrive as advisors to influential leaders or finding peaceful work helping society.
Dragons pursue ground-breaking roles only they can uniquely fill to shake status quo and manifest fresh opportunities.
Snakes leverage charm and discretion to gain influence behind the scenes then use leverage for ultimate advantage at optimal moment.
Horses flourish as explorers of new frontiers prizing progress and liberty.
Goats achieve modest wealth from creative brilliance once convinced dreams can be reality.
Monkeys utilize innovative brilliance to solve complex problems then sell solutions to prosper.
Roosters keen observations help spotlight and perfect efficiencies for success in analytical or presentation skills.
Dogs rise as ethical leaders vigilantly fighting injustice to protect the vulnerable.
Pigs cheerfully attract helpful people to indirectly achieve financial security in a socially responsible manner.

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On Family…

Rats Manipulate family dynamics to advantage unless group intervention transforms independent streak.
Oxen Cherish family above all and make obedient yet frustrated parents if stability not achieved.
Tigers Inspire family greatness through tough leadership once matured but still walk alone path ultimately.
Rabbits Create a loving family in a beautiful home environment built by ability to smoothly resolve conflicts.
Dragons Struggle as parents too self-focused. Must support spouses better.
Snakes Distant from family preferring privacy and quiet cultivation of knowledge apart from drama.
Horses Adore family life adventures when young then need total freedom which causes pain in end.
Goats Fantasize perfect family dynamics while neglecting practical steps to achieve it. Must get organized.
Monkeys Delight family with humor, wit and affection when fully present. Must limit restless wandering.
Roosters Try too hard to perfect family function in vain while seeking excessive recognition.
Dogs Fiercely defend family values once powerfully bonded as intimate, loyal pack.
Pigs Radiate tremendous warmth as ideal parent and child centered on sharing positive emotional connections frequently.

On Lifestyle & Health…

Rats Thrive on mental stimulation and diverse social connections to new contacts but don’t rest enough. Seek knowledge. Value precise language.
Oxen Possess tremendous physical strength and endurance. Pace yourself diligently. Respect nature’s cycles. Enjoy the sense of taste.
Tigers Require intense physical outlets and ego recognition to be emotionally balanced. Value courage and rebellion. Seek peak experiences. Beware accidents.
Rabbits Attune life to beauty, comfort and social harmony. Retreat sufficiently. Cherish visual aesthetics.
Dragons Assume can defeat illness through mental willpower alone. You can’t. Respect physical limits and get rest! Value idealism.
Snakes Limit vices and extreme risk-taking. Attune life to expansion of wisdom, influence and luck. Value intuition.
Horses Require outrageous freedom to channel abundant vitality. Moderate aggression and restless impulse. Play joyfully.
Goats Must believe dreams can become reality through persistent creative action over time. Value empathy, artistry. Monkeys Endlessly improve everything while limiting mischief and scattered distraction. Enjoy humor and fun with discipline.
Roosters Polish self-image and performance constantly to meet high standards. Value punctuality, courage.
Dogs Loyal to self-care disciplines once convinced of their worth. Value fairness and justice.
Pigs Adore rich food and rich relationships in excess. Experience genuine gratitude through sharing all you have and have fun doing so! Value sincerity.

What elemental sign were you born under and how might its orientations and predictors relate to your character and experiences in life so far?

Identifying your Chinese zodiac sign is just the first step. Understanding triggers that activate negative tendencies combined with tips to maximize your destiny potential based on sign-specific advice can profoundly influence ability to shape outcomes to your benefit.

How Are Chinese Zodiac Signs Calculated?

As we’ve discussed, in Chinese astrology your zodiac sign is determined by your birth year rather than month. Within each year, zodiac animals are fixed to these precise date ranges:

Rat: February 12 – February 31
Ox: February 1 – February 11
Tiger: February 12 – February 31
Rabbit: February 1 – February 11
Dragon: February 12 – February 31
Snake: February 1 – February 11
Horse: February 12 – February 31
Goat: February 1 – February 11
Monkey: February 12 – February 31
Rooster: February 1 – February 11
Dog: February 12 – February 31
Pig: February 1 – February 11

It sounds simple. But confusion results around borderline birthdates early in the year near shifting Chinese New Year dates, which varies annually between January 21 to February 20.

If born in January or early February, you must carefully calculate exact Chinese New Year dates during your birth year to determine with certainty whether your sign is the outgoing zodiac animal or incoming one.

Here’s an example demonstrating why:

In 2021, Chinese New Year fell on February 12. So all babies born between February 12 2020 (first day of the Rat zodiac year) up until February 11 2021 were Rats.

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Then all those born from February 12, 2021 forward were Ox, since that was Chinese New Year launching the Ox year and ending Rat.

So if you were born between January 26 and February 11 of 2021, you may think you were born in the Rat year but you were actually an Ox.

That’s because precise New Year dates shifted to earlier in the year during 2021 to February 12, ending Rat and starting Ox so must refer back to exact dates.

To determine your proper sign, always cross-reference precise Chinese New Year dates from Hong Kong calendars during your birth year to know animal designations in effect.

What Does My Chinese Zodiac Sign Predict In 2021?

While destiny prediction principles remain constant, interaction between elemental forces connected to each Chinese zodiac year means certain signs may experience amplified positive or negative effects annually.

Let’s examine outlooks for each animal sign in 2021, the Year of the Metal Ox:

Rat in 2021

After the abundant fortunes of your own zodiac year in 2020, life in the Ox year could feel dull and opportunities more scarce. Avoid feeling jealous of Ox successes this year. Focus efforts on strengthening existing projects and partnerships rather than risking new initiatives. Lean finances prompt you to wisely economize.

Ox in 2021

Happy Ox year returns on your charming side as you radiate confidence from the recognition and rewards your sign’s year attracts. Tap into your natural talents to achieve productive outcomes. With bountiful luck from Heaven Star energy, amplify efforts across all life domains – career, romance, investments and self-development to maximize this fortuitous year!

Tiger in 2021

Tigers must exercise emotional wisdom and logic in the methodical Ox year to achieve your goals versus acting from impulse or ego this year. Control temper when blocked by slower-moving Ox strengths. Patience!

In romantic relationships, avoid needless arguments that could cause permanent damage. Singles attract new love prospects into your world through social circles. Excellent financial opportunities arise later in year if you leverage strengths and maintain self-control. It will be a better year in 2022.

Rabbit in 2021

While recent years have been unsettling, the steadying Ox brings comfort and peace to Rabbits in 2021. Your natural talents flourish with less volatility to trigger anxiety. Nurture personal relationships with consistent devotion and use grace to avoid conflict. Career luck shines mid-year when quick wits generate brilliance. Manage health diligently as outstanding progress restoring balance is possible.

Dragon in 2021

Typically aligned with Monkey years, this oppositional Ox energy in 2021 irritates Dragons creating extra spats with loved ones. Refrain from acting superior even if usually correct. Despite nuisance obstacles, an amplified fortunate year arises in business partnerships, smart investments and new creative ideas once you stop battling and flow with circumstances.

Snake in 2021

The patient, determined Ox this year helps Snakes clarify complex decisions and formulate smart long-term strategies. Your steady nature vibes well producing career advancement, financial bonuses and supportive new friends into your network. Use rising influence wisely rather than manipulation. Treat loved ones with extra kindness as home life needs more of your attention.

Horse in 2021

Energetic Horses grow impatient with 2021’s slower Ox pace. Yet movement intensifies later in year. Avoid reckless rebellion. Impulsiveness leads to accidents or broken bones. Harness mad energy into sports or needed home repairs. In relationships, practice listening over speaking and intimacy grows. Career stalled? Reinvent skills to align with new marketplace needs. Stay determined!

Goat in 2021

Creative Goats align well with the grounded Ox energy this year. Optimism lifts you out of past ruts and consistent efforts generate productivity, income boosts and new social connections. Lovers appreciate your renewed confidence and attentiveness. Resist overspending when finances improve. Maintain focus to complete ambitious projects already begun. You’ve got this!

We covered outlooks for all 12 Chinese zodiac signs in 2021. As we’ve seen, one’s destiny prognosis remains heavily influenced by complex interactions between their fixed animal energetics and shifting elemental forces unique to each calendar year.

About the author


As a seasoned content writer for our company blog, Ann brings a unique blend of creativity, research prowess, and an unwavering commitment to delivering engaging and informative content. With a keen eye for detail and a deep understanding of our target audience, she effortlessly crafts articles that educate, inspire, and captivate our readers.

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