What the Chinese Zodiac Means for You

“What’s your sign?”

“I’m a rat!” “I’m an ox!”

This might sound odd, unless you’re familiar with the Chinese zodiac system, which is comprised of 12 animals, including the rat and the ox.

The 12 Animals of the Chinese Zodiac

The Chinese Zodiac cycles through every 12 years, so depending on your birth year, you are one of 12 animals. But be aware that this system is based on the lunar calendar, not the Gregorian calendar, so the start of the new year shifts each year in accordance with the moon. Generally, Lunar New Year happens sometime between late January and early February. This year, the new year is February 12, ushering in the Year of the Ox.

The origin story for this system varies, but generally, it’s believed that Buddha wanted to invite 12 animals to his birthday party and declared a race – the first 12 animals to arrive would be his honored guests. The rat, small but strategic, knew he’d never win on his own, so jumped on the back of the fastest animal, the ox. Nearing Buddha, the rat jumped off and scurried into first place, which is why the rat is always first in the cycle. And the ox, second.

Each animal sign is endowed with personality traits, partially derived from the origin story, partially from the animals’ inherent characteristics. While western culture typically assigns more negative traits to many of the animals in the Chinese zodiac, Chinese mythology has a very different interpretation. So don’t fret if you’re a rat, a snake or a pig.

Animal Personalities

The Rat

As the first to arrive at Buddha’s party, rats are competitive, quick-thinking, and ambitious. But they can also be stubborn, devious, and enjoy gossiping just a little bit too much.
Years of the Rat: 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008, 2020.

The Ox

As the rat’s ride to the party, the ox is very patient, diligent, and honest. On the other hand, the ox can often be stubborn, narrow-minded, and a poor communicator.
Years of the Ox: 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009, 2021

The Tiger

Even though the tiger came in third in Buddha’s race, it is generally considered a very lucky animal. Tigers are charming, courageous, and have the potential to be good leaders. But watch out, they can also easily be prone to boastfulness, irritability, and overindulgence.
Years of the Tiger: 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010, 2022.

The Rabbit

People born in the year of the rabbit tend to be kind, popular, and generally enjoy a long life. Rabbits also make great negotiators. However, they also tend to be secretive, stubborn, and quick to settle into melancholy so they do well to keep a large circle of good friends.
Years of the Rabbit: 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011.

The Dragon

Everyone wants to be a dragon: they are energetic, powerful, and have a robust constitution. But, cross a dragon and you’ll see its conceited, judgmental, and quick-tempered side.
Years of the Dragon: 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012.

The Snake

If someone calls you a snake, take it as a compliment. In the Chinese zodiac, a snake is considered to be charming, generous, and discreet. And if you are one, just keep your propensity for being lazy and greedy in check.
Years of the Snake: 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013.

The Horse

Horses in this zodiac are energetic with an indomitable spirit, clever, and easily draw others into their circle. But they can also often be arrogant, over-confident, and selfish.
Years of the Horse: 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014.

The Goat

Goat (also sheep or ram) are considered to be polite, calm, and determined. On the flip side, they can have unrealistic expectations, are prone to pessimism and can be slow on the uptake.
Years of the Goat: 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015.

The Monkey

Everyone should know a monkey; monkeys are so charming and fun and creative. But get close enough and you’ll quickly see another side that’s arrogant, crafty, and eternally restless.
Years of the Monkey: 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016.

The Rooster

Roosters are practical, hard-working, independent, and love keeping a tidy home. They have the potential to make the perfect partner, but keep in mind their propensity to be easily swayed by others and a lack of social skills.
Years of the Rooster: 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017.

The Dog

Loyal, kind, and friendly, dogs are very much akin to their animal counterparts. But their love of a good home life often keeps them from socializing with others. And once they’re out of their comfort zone, they can be cold, stubborn, and highly judgmental.
Years of the Dog: 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018.

The Pig

Pigs don’t have the best reputation in Western culture, but in this zodiac pigs are seen as intelligent, compassionate, and ruled by a sense of just. They’re also considered to be very lucky in wealth, which is good since they have a taste for luxury. The pig was last to arrive at Buddha’s party not because it was slow or tired, but because the pig was watching out for everyone else, to make sure they arrived safely. The darker side of pigs reveal their extreme stubbornness, naiveté, and materialism.
Years of the Pig: 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019.

What to Expect in the Year of the Tiger

In China, the Tiger is known as the king of all beasts. Those born in years of the Tiger are ambitious, daring and courageous. They are also enthusiastic, generous, optimistic and cheerful by nature, and are committed to helping others for the greater good.

Those born in the Year of the Tiger in 2022 may suffer major setbacks, misunderstandings, possibly even meet with more serious disasters. Sudden disruptions in career, romance and home life should be expected. It may not be the ideal year for the Tiger, but 2022 is all about following your intuition and taking leaps for the chance to be rewarded. You can read a more detailed breakdown of the Year of the Tiger here.