Skip to main content

These Are All 12 Chinese Zodiac Signs & What the Animals Represent

TOPSHOT - People look at a giant ox lantern in a park in Wuhan in China's central Hubei province on February 11, 2021, ahead of the start of the Lunar New Year, which ushers in the Year of the Ox on February 12. (Photo by Hector RETAMAL / AFP) (Photo by HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP via Getty Images)

Astrology has been making a big comeback in the 21st century. While this pseudoscience dates all the way back to the BCE period, it has always been met with a fair share of skepticism. In the past, it also wasn’t easy for people to calculate what their zodiac sign was. Today though, the field is quickly rising in popularity as astrology apps and quizzes on the internet are widespread. Now, you only have to plug your date of birth into the internet to find out your zodiac signs in an instant. While many find this fun and entertaining, there are others who follow astrology more seriously. They believe that human and earthly affairs are influenced by the movement and positions of the sun, moon, planets, and stars. Hence, many do utilize their signs to look within and to find deeper insights about themselves.

Each culture has its own unique classification system of astrology signs. In China, they go by the Chinese zodiac system. The Chinese zodiac is a repeating 12-year-cycle represented by animals. It is believed you share similar characteristics with the animal who represents the year you were born in. Here are all 12 Chinese zodiac signs and what they represent.

1. Rat

Birth years: 1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008, 2020

Next year of the Rat: 2032

Legend has it that the order of the animals in the Chinese zodiac cycle was chosen by having all 12 of the animals compete against each other in a race held by the Jade Emperor. During the race, the Rat came in first place by riding on the back of the Ox, thus, winning the honor of beginning the 12 year cycle. This little anecdote points out a lot of the characteristics that those who bear the Rat sign boast. These people are extremely witty, intelligent, and strategic. They are also creative, imaginative, and take advantage of every opportunity that comes their way. These people succeed through their sheer ambition, however, they do lack courage and tend not to be strong leaders.

Also, if you’re wondering why the Cat is not one of the zodiac signs—it’s the Rat’s fault. These two are natural enemies and the Rat tricked the Cat into showing up so late that it didn’t get to participate in the race.

2. Ox

Birth Years: 1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009, 2021

Next year of the Ox: 2033

As we know from the legend, the Ox was the good-natured animal that generously let the Rat ride it during the race. It was chosen by the Rat because it was strong, durable, and the most likely to lead the race. Hence, those whose zodiac sign is the Ox, are similarly thought to be reliable, hardworking, good-natured, and down-to-earth. There isn’t much that they fear and when they make up their mind, there is no stopping them. However, they do tend to be a little quiet, conservative, and cautious. Still, they are very diligent and honest and frequently perceived as being trustworthy.

3. Tiger

Birth Years: 1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010, 2022

Next year of the Tiger: 2034

The Tiger came in third in the race. It wasn’t quite able to overtake the Ox, but at least it didn’t cheat as the Rat did. The Tiger achieved its high rank mainly through its speed. Those born in the year of the Tiger are, likewise, very active and energetic. They are also thought to be very powerful people with keen senses and enviable strength. However, their power can sometimes go to their head and they can also be arrogant, reckless, and overindulgent. These people also have an all-or-nothing attitude, hence, they’re usually either too talkative or too quiet. Regardless, though, they are determined, courageous, and fear nothing.

4. Rabbit

Birth years: 1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011

Next year of the Rabbit: 2023

The Rabbit finished in fourth place, though, it was quite strenuous for the Rabbit. It almost drowned in a river during the race, but found refuge on a log. Those born in the year of the Rabbit are very tender, gentle, and modest. They are good-natured, polite, kind, patient, and avoid disagreements. However, these qualities can also make them a bit timid, over-cautious, and likely to miss out on certain opportunities. Fortunately, they’re also dreamers and tend to be good at creating romance and finding other means to live an interesting life despite a reserved nature.

5. Dragon

Birth years: 1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012

Next year of the Dragon: 2024

The Dragon is the only mystical creature that partook in the race. It wasn’t too concerned with the race and deviated its course by going to help put out a fire. When it returned to the race, it saw the Rabbit afloat its log and blew it across the river to safety, thus, happily finishing 5th behind it. The Chinese sometimes refer to themselves as being descendants of dragons, thus, believing dragons were meant to lead them.

Likewise, those born in the year of the Dragon are natural-born leaders with high ambition, charm, and energy. They are noble, confident, and trustworthy, though, they are bad at taking criticism and can be a bit arrogant. These people are also thought to have high innate luck that helps them achieve their goals.

6. Snake

Birth Years: 1929, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013

Next year of the Snake: 2025

The Snake was the second cheater of the race, coiling itself around the Horse and enjoying the ride before slithering into 6th place. Hence, a bit of laziness and lack of initiative is common for those born in the year of the Snake. However, they do not boast any of the darker traits we associate with snakes such as slyness. Instead, those who boast this sign are actually very sophisticated, smart, charming, and considered to be very decent. While they may occasionally be lazy, they spring into action when necessary and tend to have clear, calculated goals. These people also have a penchant for gossip and tend to be suspicious of others.

7. Horse

Birth Years: 1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014

Next year of the Horse: 2026

The Horse was holding its own in the race, but lost out on 6th place due to the Snake. Those born in the year of the Horse tend to be very passionate, energetic, active, and strong leaders. Like horses, they enjoy independence and freedom, striving towards their goals relentlessly and without help. However, they do still have a positive outlook on life and are particularly adept at romance. They can be a bit self-centered and rely on material things and extravagance to boost their image. Still, that doesn’t stop them from being warm-hearted, and they are happiest when they’re around other people.

8. Goat/Sheep

Birth years: 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015

Next year of the Goat: 2027

The Goat, sometimes known as the Sheep, teamed up with the Monkey and Rooster to build a raft to cross the river. Once across, they all ran to the finish line and the Goat pulled ahead to finish in 8th place. Those born in the year of the Goat tend to be very obedient, timid, and kind-hearted. They work best when following a leader and are very respectful towards authorities. However, since they tend to be followers, they can also be a bit too indecisive and shy. Still, a lot of them do boast enough persistence or devotion to overcome any obstacles their soft and sensitive nature may cause.

9. Monkey

Birth years: 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016,

Next year of the Monkey: 2028

After building the raft, the Monkey managed to finish in 9th place. Those born in the year of the Monkey tend to be very witty and intelligent, perhaps, even brilliant. They are very adaptable depending on their situation and boast strong curiosity and intuition. However, their cleverness and creativity sometimes makes them prone to mischievousness and impatience. They like to be the center of attention—which can make them prone to jokes and pranks. Still, many perceive them as gifted due to their cleverness and intuition.

10. Rooster

Birth years: 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017

Next year of the Rooster: 2029

The Rooster is the last member of the little team to cross the finish line, coming in 10th place. Those born in the year of the Rooster tend to be very hardworking, persistent, outgoing, confident, and intelligent. Hence, they’re very well-rounded people who tend to be well-liked and they, in turn, enjoy being social. However, they can be a bit impatient, arrogant, and are very impassive, changing their minds from one moment to the next. It is also believed that these people tend to be born attractive and handsome, which adds to their popularity, but also their arrogance.

11. Dog

Birth years: 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018

Next year of the Dog: 2030

The Dog finished second to last. This was because it got distracted by splashing around in the river, thus, letting all the other animals easily pass it. Those born in the year of the Dog are loyal, faithful, courageous, and warm-hearted. They will do anything for the person who they love and are considered the most reliable partners. However, they do harbor insecurities and anxieties, which can sometimes make them irritable and standoffish. If they can prevail through their anxiety, though, they can be very good leaders.

12. Pig

Birth years: 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019

Next year of the Pig: 2031

After the Dog crossed the finish line, the Emperor waited for some time. Just as he gave up hope and was about to call the race to a close, he heard an “oink” and along came the Pig, finishing in 12th. The Pig had gotten hungry during the race and stopped for a snack. Those born in the year of the Pig tend to be light-hearted, optimistic, kind, and diligent. They tend to work very hard once they set their mind to something. As a result, they tend to have a very light spirit and sleep easy at night. However, their good-naturedness sometimes makes them gullible because they don’t naturally suspect others of wrong.

(featured image: HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP via Getty Images)

Have a tip we should know? [email protected]

Filed Under:

Follow The Mary Sue:

Rachel Ulatowski is a Freelance Writer, blogger, and aspiring author. As a Freelancer Writer she hopes to give readers the same comfort and enjoyment that she finds in all things nerdy and noteworthy, as a blogger she enjoys snarking on YouTubers and reality stars, and as a future novelist she hopes to raise awareness for child abuse through literature.