Tag Archives: Chinese Zodiac

The Differences Between the Chinese Zodiac and Western Astrology

With Chinese New Year coming up, and this year being the year of the Rooster, it is worth trying to understand the Chinese zodiac, a system of divination that differs from Western astrology.

The main similarities between the two systems is that both systems are based on date and time of birth, with 12 symbols or signs used to communicate across meaning. We’ve listed some of the main differences, to make things a little easier to understand.

The 12 Signs

In both systems, there are the same number of signs: 12. Two are superficially similar: Ox/Bull and Goat/Ram.

  • The Chinese signs are: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig. 
  • The Western signs are: Ram, Bull, Twins, Crab, Lion, Virgin, Scales, Scorpion, Centaur, Sea-Goat, Water Bearer, and Fish.

2016 is a year of the Monkey, 2017 will be a year of the Rooster, and 2018 will be a year of the Dog.

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Origins of the Signs

In Chinese astrology, the 12 signs are derived from a myth that when God was developing a calendar, all creatures on Earth were summoned to participate in a race. The first 12 to cross the line were awarded signs in the Chinese zodiac. 

This differs from Western astrology where the 12 signs are based on constellations’ positions relative to the earth. The constellations were named according to Greek mythology.

Zodiac Months — Another Similarity

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The Chinese zodiac and the Western zodiac have a half month (or one solar term) overlap.

The Chinese zodiac animals were assigned months on the traditional Chinese solar calendar. Each animal sign corresponds with two of the 24 solar terms, for a period similar to a Western zodiac month.

This means that the Western astrological signs and Chinese zodiac months have a half-month overlap, as can be seen in the diagram right. 

The Chinese cycle starts with the month of the Rat around December 7 (including solar terms ‘Major Snow’ and ‘Winter Solstice’, i.e. half of Sagittarius and half of Capricorn). 

More Than Just Your Birth Year or Month

Within the simplified Western astrological framework, signs are divided per month, while the Chinese signs are divided on a year-by-year basis when it comes to popular astrology. This means that in Chinese beliefs, people who were born in the same year have similar traits, as opposed to the Western belief that those born in the same month-long time frame have similar traits.

However, of course, there is more to it. In Western astrology, apart from the constellations, the planets, for example, symbolize basic motivations in the human psyche. Beside the yearly zodiac, Chinese astrology has three other pillars that create your fate, making four pillars in total: birth year, birth month, birth day, and birth hour. 

When comparing the four pillars to Western astrology, the main difference is that Western astrology focuses on celestial alignment (of constellations with planets, stars, the moon, etc.), while the four pillars are based on the alignment of blocks of time in the Chinese calendar.

Lunar, But Mostly Solar

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Appreciation of the moon runs deep in Chinese culture.

In the popularly-used Chinese astrology system (the lunar calendar), each month begins with a new moon and lasts for 29 or 30 days. The Chinese New Year date and length of a lunar year change by up to a month relative to a solar calendar. 

However, “professional” or conventional Chinese astrology mainly uses the traditional solar calendar when it comes to making predictions and laying out horoscopes. In this method, a year begins on February 4th (within a day).

The Western astrological calendar is based on the Earth’s orbit around the sun (and resulting celestial alignment), which gives every zodiac month a set date (within a day), lasting between 29 and 31 days. This is why Western zodiac star signs are also known as sun signs.

Lunar Phases in China and the West

Chinese astrology places emphasis on the lunar phase at the time of your birth. There are four moon phases: new moon, waxing moon, full moon, and waning moon. New moon types are those seeking innovative environments, waxing moon people are known for being hard working, full moon types are diplomatic, while waning moon people desire peaceful surroundings.

The Western system, comparatively, considers two moon nodes; the North or Ascending Node, and the South or Descending Node. While still playing a role in sensitive areas, in Western astrology the planets are seen as more important factors.

Involving the Elements

The Chinese astrology system identifies five elements: fire, earth, metal, water, and wood. Each element is linked to motivating forces in your life. 

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Because the animals are on 12-year cycles and there are five elements, the entire Chinese zodiac-element cycle lasts 60 years. In this system, each sign has a fire, earth, metal, water, and wood variety depending on your birth year. 2017 is a Fire Rooster year.

  • Fire signs are inspired by excitement, 
  • earth signs are motivated to secure foundations, 
  • metal signs are driven to create order, 
  • water signs are compelled to form emotional bonds, 
  • and those born under the wood element have a desire to explore.

In the Western system, only four elements are identified: fire, earth, air, and water, and each element is associated with three signs with psychological features. Each sign has one element associated with it. 

  • Water signs are driven by emotion, 
  • earth signs are practical, 
  • fire signs are impulsive, and 
  • air signs are intellectually oriented. 

Your Chinese Zodiac Year Is Bad Luck!

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A feature of the Chinese zodiac that is incomparable to anything in the West is that it is bad luck when your year comes around (every 12 years you “offend the god of age”). Your horoscope is no more unlucky (or lucky) than usual in your Western zodiac month.

Roosters beware in 2017 (a Rooster year). 

 

 

The Chinese Zodiac

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The Chinese Animal Zodiac, or ShengXiao (/shnng-sshyaoww/ ‘born resembling’), is a repeating cycle of 12 years, with each year being represented by an animal and its reputed attributes. Traditionally these zodiac animals were used to date the years. 

In order, the 12 animals are: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, Pig. Each year is associated with a zodiac animal. 2018 is the year of the Dog.

The 12 Animals of the Chinese Zodiac

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What Your Chinese Zodiac Animal Sign Is

Your Chinese Zodiac sign is derived from your birth year, according to the Chinese lunar calendar. See the years of each animal below or use the calculator on the right to determine your own sign.

  • 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: 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

Find Your Chinese Zodiac SignChoose your date of birth and find out about your Chinese zodiac sign.

Those born in January and February take care: Chinese (Lunar) New Year moves between 21 January and February 20. If you were born in January or February, check whether your birth date falls before or after Chinese New Year to know what your Chinese zodiac year is.

The Zodiac is Only One of China’s Fortune Prediction Methods

To make a relatively correct Chinese fortune prediction, people take many methods into consideration, such as face characteristics, palmistry, and more involved Chinese astrology including birth month, day, and hour, gender, etc.

Zodiac fortune prediction by birth year is only one of these methods. So you may only take Chinese zodiac birth sign horoscopes as a general reference.

Chinese Zodiac Love Compatibility — Is He/She Right for You?

People born in a certain animal year are believed to have attributes of that animal, which could either help or hinder a relationship.

An important use of Chinese Zodiac is to determine if two people are compatible, in a romantic relationship or any kind of relationship. Inancient times people were faithful to Chinese Zodiac compatibilityand often referred to it before a romantic relationship began. Even nowadays some people still refer to it.

Take our online test on the right and find how suitable you and your partner are. See our Chinese Zodiac Love Compatibility Charts

It’s BAD LUCK When Your Zodiac Year Comes Around!

As the Chinese zodiac recurs every 12 years, your animal year will come around when you are 12, 24, 36, 48, 60, 72, etc.

According to ancient Chinese superstition, in your birth sign year, he will offend the God of Age, and will have bad luck during that year. The best way to avoid bad luck during this year is by wearing something red given by an elder (relative), such as socks, a neck cord, underwear, a waistband, a bracelet, or an anklet.

Chinese Zodiac Years Have Two Different Starts!

The traditional solar calendar has 24 fifteen-day solar terms, and the first, called ‘Start of Spring’, falls on February 4 (or 5).There are two dates a Chinese zodiac year could be said to start on, and neither is January 1! China traditionally uses two calendars: the solar calendar and the lunar calendar.

The lunar calendar has 12 or 13 months and starts on Chinese New Year, which is somewhere in the period January 21 to February 20.

Most Chinese people use lunar New Year as the start of the zodiac year. But for fortune telling and astrology, people believe ‘Start of Spring’ is the beginning of the zodiac year.

Chinese Zodiac Origins — Why 12 Animals

The 12 animals were chosen deliberately, after many revisions. The zodiac animals are either closely related to ancient Chinese people’s daily lives, or have lucky meanings.

The ox, horse, goat, rooster, pig, and dog are six of the main domestic animals raised by Chinese people. The other six animals: rat, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, and monkey are all loved by the Chinese people.

Why the 12 Zodiac Animals Are in That Order

64e579f60b044c01bc894b32_300x300The 12 Chinese Zodiac animals are in a fixed order according to Chinese Yin and Yang Theory and perceived attributes.

The yin or the yang of the animals is defined based on the odd or even number of their claws (or toes, hoofs). The animals are then arranged in an alternating (complementary) yin-yang sequence.

Usually an animal has is the same number of claws on its front and rear legs. However the rat has four toes on its fore legs and five on its hind legs.

As the old saying goes, “a thing is valued in proportion to its rarity”, so the Rat ranks first of the 12 zodiac animals. It uniquely combines the attributes of odd (yang) and even (yin). 4+5=9, and yang is dominant, so the Rat is classified as odd (yang) overall.

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Each animal has symbolic meanings given to it by the ancient Chinese. These animal attributes comes in six contrasting pairs that must be harmonized, like yin and yang, and are the primary factor governing the order of the zodiac. (Presumably the attributes most valued by ancient Chinese are first and so on.) 

The strong yang attribute comes first, then the balancing yin attribute.

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Chinese Zodiac Hours — Each Hour is Associated with a Zodiac Animal

d1b5f024a6db4de5a92164f7It is widely known that each year is associated with a Chinese zodiac animal, but in Chinese culture the 12 zodiac animals are also associated with hours of a day.

In ancient times, in order to tell the time, people divided a day into twelve 2-hour periods, and designated an animal to represent each period, according to each animal’s “special time”.

According to Chinese astrology, though not popularly used, a person’s personality and life is more decided by his/her birth hour than year. The zodiac hour is widely used for character and destiny analysis.

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