The Chinese zodiac is a mathematical cycle of 12 animals. Each animal represents one year. People are associated with the zodiac animal for the year that they are born. The 12 animals in order are: Rat, Ox & Cow, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster & Chicken, Dog, and Pig. Zodiac animals can also represent hours of the day and directions. Although it is called the Chinese zodiac, this system is also used in several other countries in Asia such as Korea, Japan, and Vietnam.
Some Chinese people believe that each zodiac animal has a personality, and people born in the same year may have similar personalities.
years: 1984, 1996, 2008, 2020
Honest, freedom, hard working, charming. Can be selfish, ruthless, controlling, scheming.
years: 1985, 1997, 2009, 2021
Smart, calm, patient, inspiring, modest. Can be stubborn, narrow-minded, demanding, rigid.
years: 1986, 1998, 2010, 2022
Aggressive, rebellious, strong, daring, generous. Can be restless, clumsy, hot-temper, impatient.
years: 1987, 1999, 2011
Kind, sensitive, elegant, artistic, cautious. Can be moody, shy, lazy, opportunistic.
years: 1988, 2000, 2012
Strong, proud, direct, eccentric, show off. Can be arrogant, violent, brash, controlling.
years: 1991, 2003, 2015
Righteous, honest, shy, artistic, understanding. Can be moody, a worrier, a complainer, and soft.
years: 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017
Neat, organized, alert, scientific, responsible. Can be critical, egotistical, rough, opinionated.
years: 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018
Honest, smart, loyal, sense of justice, affectionate. Can be lazy, cold, stubborn, quarrelsome.
In the old days, China and Japan used a 12-hour system to tell the time of day and night (unlike the 24 hour system used today). The 12 hour system divides the day of 24 hours into 12 hours, each of which has a sign of the zodiac:
- 11:00 PM to 1:00 AM is the hour of the Rat.
- 1:00 AM to 3:00 AM is the hour of the Ox.
- 3:00 AM to 5:00 AM is the hour of the Tiger.
- 5:00 AM to 7:00 AM is the hour of the Rabbit.
- 7:00 AM to 9:00 AM is the hour of the Dragon.
- 9:00 AM to 11:00 AM is the hour of the Snake.
- 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM is the hour of the Horse.
- 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM is the hour of the Goat.
- 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM is the hour of the Monkey.
- 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM is the hour of the Rooster.
- 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM is the hour of the Dog.
- 9:00 PM to 11:00 PM is the hour of the Pig.
The Chinese and Japanese would call the different directions (North, Northeast, Northwest, East, South, Southeast, Southwest, West), based on the names of the zodiac animals.
- Rat (Water, North)
- Ox (Earth, North-Northeast)
- Tiger (Wood, East-Northeast)
- Rabbit (Wood, East)
- Dragon (Earth, East-Southeast)
- Snake (Fire, South-Southeast)
- Horse (Fire, South)
- Goat (Earth, South-Southwest)
- Monkey (Metal, West-Southwest)
- Rooster (Metal, West)
- Dog (Earth, West-Northwest)
- Pig (Water, North-Northwest)
Images for kids
Chinese Zodiac Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.