Chinese Years, Chinese Signs

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Chinese years refer to Chinese lunar years. There are two common ways in the world in term of making sense of time. One of which is cyclical, like the Chinese lunar calendar. It's based on the cycles of the moon. Another one is a linear perception of time, the western way, with time proceeding in a straight line from the past to the present and the future.

Since 1911, both the western calendar and Chinese lunar calendar have been in use by the Chinese. However, traditional festivals such as the Chinese New Year, the Mid-autumn Festival, are calculated with the Tran ional lunar calendar. That can explain why the Chinese New Year is also called Chinese Lunar New Year, and its date is not fixed if you want make a mark on your western calendar. It differs from year to year.

Actually that brought quite some time-blurring experience to me since I lived in the U.S. and didn't have a Chinese lunar calendar in my house. My relatives sent their blessings to me and my family here during some of the traditional holidays, and I was still caught in the American schedule. My eyes popped out and I said: What?! It's xxxx day already?

They forgave me. I was in a linear timeline when the cyclical time is on the other side the Pacific Ocean.

But not really. The cyclical time actually has been here on this side of the Pacific Ocean for decades in the form of one of the biggest, if not the biggest, annual celebrations of San Francisco, California, the Chinese New Year Festival and Parade. You might be one of the numerous people who have some experience of it. Or if you pay some attention to the date of the celebration parade, you might notice that the date is "odd", because it's way past the 1st of January, the New Year's Day. It can be as late as in late February.

The Twelve Animal Signs

Chinese Years
Chinese Animal Signs in Paper Cut

The fun parts of Chinese lunar years are not only those beautiful and meaningful traditional celebrations, but also in the Twelve Animal Signs, the Chinese Zodiac, a popular folk method that records years with these 12 animals: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Boar.

It forms 12 years with each animal as one cycle; every twelve years the same animal name or "sign" would reappear.

Much like monthly horoscopes in the West have been developed for the different moon signs, such Pisces, Aries, etc., Chinese horoscopes also have developed around the animal signs as an amusing cultural sideline and are not regarded seriously.

People normally can get an idea about how old your are without asking your age when they know your animal sign.

Legend--Why the Rat Heads the Twelve In Chinese Years

Have you ever wondered why the Rat gets the first position in the Twelve Animal Signs?

According to the legend of Chinese Years, it all started from a quarrel. When the twelve animals were chosen to represent the cyclical Chinese Years, they started arguing about who was to head the cycle of years.

They sought out the gods to decide their order. The gods suggested they have a contest to see who would be the first to arrive the opposite river bank. The arriving order would be the order of the years they represent.

They all agreed and the contest began.

All the twelve animals jumped into the water and swam towards the other side of the river bank. The ox was the fastest. But during the excitement, the rat had formed a strategy and jumped upon the ox's back without his knowing. As soon as the ox was about to jump upon the shore, the rat jumped off the ox's back, and won the race. The pig, or the boar, which was very lazy and didn't care about the order that much, ended up last. That is why the rat is the first year of the animal cycle, the ox second and the pig last.

And you might get a glimpse of why the rat is noted as very ambitious and successful according to the Chinese zodiac. People who are born in boar years work hard to achieve their goals and acquire possessions. They are also very likely to be perfectionists, and are charming as well as attractive for the opposite sex.

What is your Animal Year? Here is the the Chinese zodiac chart:

Rat 2008 1996 1984 1972 1960 1948 1936 1924 1912 1900
Ox 2009 1997 1985 1973 1961 1949 1937 1925 1913 1901
Tiger 2010 1998 1986 1974 1962 1950 1938 1926 1914 1902
Rabbit 2011 1999 1987 1975 1963 1951 1939 1927 1915 1903
Dragon 2012 2000 1988 1976 1964 1952 1940 1928 1916 1904
Snake 2013 2001 1989 1977 1965 1953 1941 1929 1917 1905
Horse 2014 2002 1990 1978 1966 1954 1942 1930 1918 1906
Goat 2015 2003 1991 1979 1967 1955 1943 1931 1919 1907
Monkey 2016 2004 1992 1980 1968 1956 1944 1932 1920 1908
Rooster 2017 2005 1993 1981 1969 1957 1945 1933 1921 1909
Dog 2018 2006 1994 1982 1970 1958 1946 1934 1922 1910
Pig 2019 2007 1995 1983 1971 1959 1947 1935 1923 1911

If you were born in JANUARY or FEBRUARY, your birthday is special. Here is the special chart for you to find your zodiac animal. After you find it, come back to this page to have fun with your animal.

Birth Year Date of Birth Animal
2010 2-14-2010 to 2-2-2011 Tiger
2009 1-26-2009 to 2-13-2010 Ox
2008 2-7-2008 to 1-25-2009 Rat
2007 2-18-2007 to 2-6-2008 Pig
2006 2-17-2006 to 2-17-2007 Dog
2005 2-9-2005 to 2-16-2006 Rooster
2004 1-22-2004 to 2-8-2005 Monkey
2003 2-1-2003 to 1-21-2004 Sheep
2002 2-12-2002 to 1-31-2003 Horse
2001 1-24-2001 to 2-11-2002 Snake
2000 2-5-2000 to 1-23-2001 Dragon
1999 2-16-1999 to 2-4-2000 Rabbit
1998 1-28-1998 to 2-15-1999 Tiger
1997 2-7-1997 to 1-27-1998 Ox
1996 2-19-1996 to 2-6-1997 Rat
1995 1-31-1995 to 2-18-1996 Pig
1994 2-10-1994 to 1-30-1995 Dog
1993 1-23-1993 to 2-9-1994 Rooster
1992 2-4-1992 to 1-22-1993 Monkey
1991 2-15-1991 to 2-3-1992 Sheep
1990 1-27-1990 to 2-14-1991 Horse
1989 2-6-1989 to 1-26-1990 Snake
1988 2-17-1988 to 2-5-1989 Dragon
1987 1-29-1987 to 2-16-1988 Rabbit
1986 2-9-1986 to 1-28-1987 Tiger
1985 2-20-1985 to 2-8-1986 Ox
1984 2-2-1984 to 2-19-1985 Rat
1983 2-13-1983 to 2-1-1984 Pig
1982 1-25-1982 to 2-12-1984 Dog
1981 2-5-1981 to 1-24-1982 Rooster
1980 2-16-1980 to 2-4-1981 Monkey
1979 1-28-1979 to 2-15-1980 Sheep
1978 2-7-1978 to 1-27-1979 Horse
1977 2-18-1977 to 2-6-1978 Snake
1976 1-31-1976 to 2-17-1977 Dragon
1975 2-11-1975 to 1-30-1976 Rabbit
1974 1-23-1974 to 2-10-1975 Tiger
1973 2-3-1973 to 1-22-1974 Ox
1972 2-15-1972 to 2-2-1973 Rat
1971 1-27-1971 to 2-14-1972 Pig
1970 2-6-1970 to 1-26-1971 Dog
1969 2-17-1969 to 2-5-1970 Rooster
1968 1-30-1968 to 2-16-1969 Monkey
1967 1-9-1967 to 1-29-1968 Sheep
1966 1-21-1966 to 2-8-1967 Horse
1965 2-2-1965 to 1-20-1966 Snake
1964 2-13-1964 to 2-1-1965 Dragon
1963 1-25-1963 to 2-12-1964 Rabbit
1962 2-5-1962 to 1-24-1963 Tiger
1961 2-15-1961 to 2-4-1962 Ox
1960 1-28-1960 to 2-14-1961 Rat
1959 2-8-1959 to 1-27-1960 Pig
1958 2-18-1958 to 2-7-1959 Dog
1957 1-31-1957 to 2-17-1958 Rooster
1956 2-12-1956 to 1-30-1957 Monkey
1955 1-24-1955 to 2-11-1956 Sheep
1954 2-3-1954 to 1-23-1955 Horse
1953 2-14-1953 to 2-2-1954 Snake
1952 1-27-1952 to 2-13-1953 Dragon
1951 2-6-1951 to 1-26-1952 Rabbit
1950 2-17-1950 to 2-5-1951 Tiger
1949 1-29-1949 to 2-16-1950 Ox
1948 2-10-1948 to 1-28-1949 Rat
1947 1-22-1947 to 2-9-1948 Pig
1946 2-2-1946 to 1-21-1947 Dog
1945 2-13-1945 to 2-1-1946 Rooster
1944 1-25-1944 to 2-12-1945 Monkey
1943 2-5-1943 to 1-24-1944 Sheep
1942 2-15-1942 to 2-4-1943 Horse
1941 1-27-1941 to 2-14-1942 Snake
1940 2-8-1940 to 1-26-1941 Dragon
1939 2-19-1939 to 2-7-1940 Rabbit
1938 1-31-1938 to 2-18-1939 Tiger
1937 2-11-1937 to 1-30-1938 Ox
1936 1-24-1936 to 2-10-1937 Rat
1935 2-4-1935 to 1-23-1936 Pig
1934 2-14-1934 to 2-3-1935 Dog
1933 1-26-1933 to 2-13-1934 Rooster
1932 2-6-1932 to 1-25-1933 Monkey
1931 2-17-1931 to 2-5-1932 Sheep
1930 1-30-1930 to 2-16-1931 Horse
1929 2-10-1929 to 1-29-1930 Snake
1928 1-23-1928 to 2-9-1929 Dragon
1927 2-2-1927 to 1-22-1928 Rabbit
1926 2-13-1926 to 2-1-1927 Tiger
1925 1-24-1925 to 2-12-1926 Ox
1924 2-5-1924 to 1-23-1925 Rat
1923 1-16-1923 to 2-4-1924 Pig
1922 1-28-1922 to 1-15-1923 Dog
1921 2-8-1921 to 1-27-1922 Rooster
1920 2-20-1920 to 2-7-1921 Monkey
1919 2-1-1919 to 2-19-1920 Sheep
1918 2-11-1918 to 1-31-1919 Horse
1917 1-23-1912 to 2-10-1918 Snake
1916 2-4-1916 to 1-22-1917 Dragon
1915 2-14-1915 to 2-3-1916 Rabbit
1914 1-26-1914 to 2-13-1915 Tiger
1913 2-6-1913 to 1-25-1914 Ox
1912 2-18-1912 to 2-5-1913 Rat
1911 1-30-1911 to 2-17-1912 Pig
1910 2-10-1910 to 1-29-1911 Dog
1909 1-22-1909 to 2-9-1910 Rooster
1908 2-2-1908 to 1-21-1909 Monkey
1907 2-13-1907 to 2-1-1908 Sheep
1906 1-25-1906 to 2-12-1907 Horse
1905 2-4-1905 to 1-24-1905 Snake
1904 2-16-1904 to 2-3-1905 Dragon
1903 1-29-1903 to 2-15-1904 Rabbit
1902 2-8-1902 to 1-28-1903 Tiger
1901 2-6-1901 to 2-7-1902 Ox
1900 2-18-1912 to 2-5-1913 Rat

 

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