Which Chinese Zodiac Year Was I Born In?

Have you ever wondered which year of the Chinese zodiac you were born under and what it means? The Chinese zodiac, known as Sheng Xiao, is based on a 12-year cycle with each year represented by a different animal sign. Your zodiac animal sign is determined by your birth year according to the Chinese lunar calendar rather than the Gregorian calendar.

This guide will explain the basics of the Chinese zodiac, help you identify your Chinese zodiac sign based on your birth year, and provide an overview of the personality traits, compatibilities, and fortunes associated with each sign.

What Is the Chinese Zodiac?

The Chinese zodiac, or shengxiao (“born resembling”), is a repeating 12-year cycle where each year is represented by one of 12 animals. These animal signs in order are the Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat (sometimes referred to as Sheep), Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig.

According to legends, the Jade Emperor declared that the zodiac would be named according to the order in which the animals arrived to his party. The Twelve Zodiac animals were chosen deliberately, after extensive deliberation by Chinese astrologers thousands of years ago based on how they represent a symbolic release from Heaven’s command.

It’s believed that the animal ruling the year you were born influences your personality, career, compatibility with others and fortune in the year itself. People eagerly await what luck their birth sign will bring them in a given year according to the zodiac.

How Is Your Chinese Zodiac Sign Determined?

Your Chinese zodiac animal sign is based on your birth year, according to the Chinese lunar calendar, rather than the standard Gregorian calendar. This is because the start of the lunar new year begins on different dates annually, sometime between late January to mid February.

Here are the 12 zodiac animals and their years:

  • Rat: 2008, 1996, 1984, 1972, 1960
  • Ox: 2009, 1997, 1985, 1973, 1961
  • Tiger: 2010, 1998, 1986, 1974, 1962
  • Rabbit: 2011, 1999, 1987, 1975, 1963
  • Dragon: 2012, 2000, 1988, 1976, 1964
  • Snake: 2013, 2001, 1989, 1977, 1965
  • Horse: 2014, 2002, 1990, 1978, 1966
  • Goat/Sheep: 2015, 2003, 1991, 1979, 1967
  • Monkey: 2016, 2004, 1992, 1980, 1968
  • Rooster: 2017, 2005, 1993, 1981, 1969
  • Dog: 2018, 2006, 1994, 1982, 1970
  • Pig: 2019, 2007, 1995, 1983, 1971

So you simply need to find the year you were born to determine your Chinese zodiac animal.

Personality Traits of the 12 Chinese Zodiac Signs

Which Chinese Zodiac Year Was I Born In?

Each Chinese zodiac animal is said to impart distinct personality traits and qualities into those born under it. Let’s take a closer look at each of the 12 animal signs along with their unique characteristics.


Years: 2008, 1996, 1984, 1972, 1960

The clever, quick-witted rat is full of energy and highly observant. Rats are resourceful and have sharp minds that help them easily solve problems. They are financially savvy and enjoy saving money. Sometimes anxious but overall adaptable, rats can thrive in a variety of settings. Despite their active and industrious nature, rats know when to relax.


Years: 2009, 1997, 1985, 1973, 1961

The steady, reliable ox values hard work and honesty. They believe in tackling problems steadily through strong determination. Extremely patient, oxes approach things methodically rather than act in haste. While sometimes stubborn, oxes are also friendly, kindhearted and have fierce loyalty towards loved ones. Their steadfast nature makes them dependable and trustworthy.


Years: 2010, 1998, 1986, 1974, 1962

The bold, fiery tiger is known for courage, confidence and a sense of adventure. Restless thrill-seekers, tigers love taking risks and living on the edge. They dive headfirst into even the most challenging endeavors. Vivacious, exciting and extremely competitive, tigers want to stand apart from the crowd in work and play. Despite their domineering nature, tigers use charm and humor to win people over.


Years: 2011, 1999, 1987, 1975, 1963

The gentle, elegant rabbit values security above all else. Serene and tasteful, rabbits enjoy comfort and quiet living. While somewhat shy, they are also compassionate, kindhearted and dependable friends. Rabbits prefer diplomacy over conflict and avoid risk-taking endeavors. Intelligent with sharp attention to detail, rabbits have creative, artistic minds and refined tastes they use to create harmonious environments.


Years: 2012, 2000, 1988, 1976, 1964

The vibrant, eccentric dragon is a born leader brimming with charisma. Dramatic dreamers and vivid storytellers, dragons envision grand plans and pursue lofty goals constantly. Enthusiastic, lucky and risk-taking, they inspire support to achieve success through sheer charm. Despite being short-tempered at times, dragons are generous friends and mentors who use imagination and humor to advance interests.


Years: 2013, 2001, 1989, 1977, 1965

The elegant, intuitive snake is deeply wise and always collected. Subtle and secretive by nature, snakes prefer observing and contemplating to talking or acting hastily. Graceful, classy snakes have refined tastes but also sharp minds and witty banter once comfortable. Although self-sufficient, snakes are drawn to people who appreciate their depth and understand their need for space at times.


Years: 2014, 2002, 1990, 1978, 1966

The animated, fun-loving horse has boundless amounts of energy and confidence. Independent and freedom-loving, horses are eager to take on new adventures and travel. Although impatient and hot-headed under stress, horses are friendly people who use humor and optimism to draw others into their escapades. Outgoing, clever and resourceful, horses jump over obstacles in pursuit of the next thrill.


Years: 2015, 2003, 1991, 1979, 1967

The mild-mannered, empathetic goat tends to be most content out of the spotlight. Sensitive dreamers, they prefer enjoying quieter lives surrounded by loved ones to seeking fame or fortune. Dependable, caring goats make devoted partners and nurturers. While they can be indecisive and anxious when pressed, their warmth and generosity make goats enduring, supportive friends and allies.


Years: 2016, 2004, 1992, 1980, 1968

The quick-witted, curious monkey is a true inventor full of innovative ideas and solutions. Smart, fun-loving monkeys use humor and playfulness disarm and delight those around them. Energetic and motivated but sometimes restless, monkeys pour passion into solving interesting problems but less enthusiasm into routine tasks. Outgoing monkeys easily draw a crowd but need occasional solitude to recharge.


Years: 2017, 2005, 1993, 1981, 1969

The eager, earnest rooster values attention to detail and always follows through fully. Organized, efficient roosters hold themselves and others to extremely high standards. At their best, roosters are earnest planners who lead by example to accomplish great things. At their worst, roosters can become overbearing critics unwilling to delegate or bend rules even when practicality calls for flexibility or collaboration with others.


Years: 2018, 2006, 1994, 1982, 1970

The just, ethical dog upholds principles of honesty and fairness first and foremost. Their grounded, steady nature makes dogs loyal and reliable friends as well as conscientious decision-makers who consider how choices impact others. Outspoken but forgiving, dogs express their opinions directly but let go of grievances easily. Although occasionally anxious or intense under stress, dogs relax by being of service to people they hold dear.


Years: 2019, 2007, 1995, 1983, 1971

The happy-go-lucky pig delights in good company and simple pleasures. Cheerful, friendly pigs seek contentment through enjoying delicious foods, relaxing activities and amusing stories with friends. Although gullible at times, their warmth, sincerity and optimism help pigs attract good fortunes and mentors. Pigs tend to get stressed in conflict or competition but excel when collaborating towards mutual support and shared rewards with others.

The 5 Elements & Your Full Sign

In addition to your animal, your Chinese sign is also associated with one of five elements: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water. The five elements repeat alongside the 12 zodiac animals in a 60 year cycle.

The elements offer further insight into your personality. Below is the cycle of elements linked with each zodiac animal over the past 60 years.

  • Wood: Tiger, Rabbit, Monkey, Rat, Dragon
  • Fire: Snake, Horse, Goat/Sheep, Rooster, Dog
  • Earth: Ox, Dragon, Monkey, Rat, Tiger
  • Metal: Pig, Rooster, Dog, Rabbit, Horse
  • Water: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon

For example, a Wood Dragon has slightly different traits than a Water Dragon owing to their elemental modifiers.

To find your full sign, determine your birth year within the 60 year cycle to identify which of the five elements rules your sign. Then combine your animal with your element.

So someone born in 2012 is a Water Dragon. While someone born in 2000 is a Metal Dragon. Their core dragon strengths are the same but the elements offer nuances in their personalities.

Chinese Zodiac Love Compatibility

In Chinese astrology, certain zodiac animals are thought to be more compatible as romantic partners than others. Let’s look at some of the top matches and mismatches.

Best Matches

  • Rat & Ox: Steadfast ox helps active rat flourish. These opposite but complementary signs bring out each other’s best qualities.
  • Snake & Rooster: Intuitive snake provides support and validation for detail-oriented rooster. They balance each other beautifully.
  • Horse & Dog: Loyal dog reassures independent horse by offering a stable home base. Their friendship helps both signs overcome weaknesses.
  • Rabbit & Pig: Peace-loving rabbit helps optimistic pig stay grounded and focused while pig keeps rabbit from boredom.

Challenging Matches

  • Rat & Horse: Both signs are very strong-willed and struggle seeing eye to eye despite superficial charm between them early on.
  • Ox & Goat: Ox feels frustrated by indecisive goat who only wishes steady ox would relax its strict standards.
  • Tiger & Monkey: Competitive tiger struggles with monkey’s joking, scattered nature and monkey feels tiger is overbearing.
  • Dragon & Dog: Strong-minded dragon refuses to be corrected while righteous dog will not tolerate dragon’s ego and shortcomings.

Of course zodiac compatibility relies on more than just sun signs alone and many supposedly mismatched couples thrive despite differences. Look at your full birth charts, life circumstances and willingness to understand each other’s perspectives when assessing romantic opportunities.

What Does My Yearly Zodiac Fortune Mean?

Each zodiac animal has a luck ranking annually that shifts based on wider astrological influences. So you may have good fortune in a Ox year but face more obstacles in a Tiger year as a Ox.

Annual fortunes also relate to elements modifying animal signs. For example, 2023 is a Water Rabbit year which specifically favors Water signs (Rat & Ox) over other elements.

Below are the luckiest and unluckiest signs for 2023’s Water Rabbit year:

Best Fortunes

  • Rat
  • Ox
  • Monkey
  • Rooster

Worst Fortunes

  • Snake
  • Horse
  • Dog

Check annual Chinese zodiac forecasts to understand luck by animal and element. Pay special attention to your sign’s ranking each year!

Frequently Asked Questions

Still unsure about identifying your Chinese zodiac sign or want to know more? Here are answers to some frequently asked questions:

When does the Chinese zodiac year officially start?

The Chinese lunar year starts on different days annually, between January 21st and February 20th. 2023 began on January 22nd (Chinese New Year) and 2024 will start February 9th.

Was I born in January or February? How do I determine my sign?

Check if you were born before or after Chinese New Year that birth year. The zodiac year changes over based on the lunar calendar rather than the solar calendar.

I was born in January 1981 – am I a Monkey or Rooster?

You’re a Monkey! The lunar new year began February 16th in 1981 so there is only a Monkey year in 1981.

Can the Chinese zodiac determine my future and personality accurately?

Zodiac signs offer insight but don’t shape our destinies. Pay attention to your wider birth chart, choices and growth. Signs do capture core motivations but allow personal evolution over time.

Which zodiac animals make the best couples?

Astrologers consider Rat & Ox, Snake & Rooster, Horse & Dog, and Rabbit & Pig the most compatible matches that become power couples. But any two signs can foster strong relationships with mutual understanding and effort.

Which Chinese zodiac sign is the luckiest?

No one sign alone is always the luckiest. Annual luck varies between signs based on complex astrology factors. That said, the ever-adaptable Rat is considered the best at finding good fortune in all situations.

I hope this overview has helped you identify which Chinese zodiac animal represents the year you were born! Let me know if you have any other questions about your sign, compatibility or what your yearly outlook is forecast to hold.

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