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Chinese astrology, or Sheng Xiao (生肖), is an ancient astrological practice that can be traced back to the Han Dynasty. This kind of astrology is founded on the concepts of yin and yang, with significant elemental, natural, and lunar influences.
Similar to Western astrology, Chinese astrology has 12 zodiac signs—which are represented by animals. However, in Chinese astrology, the zodiac sign seasons last all year long—as opposed to Western astrology’s four-week seasons.
In order, the Chinese zodiac signs are: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig. Similar to Western astrology, each zodiac sign animal is defined by certain characteristics. For example, Snake energy is known to be sensual and intelligent while Horse energy is easygoing and honest.
In Chinese astrology, each year is defined by two ongoing cycles: 1) the elemental cycle: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water (called “ten heavenly stems”), and 2) the 12 zodiac signs in their respective yin or yang influences. For example, the year 2021’s elemental cycle is Yin Metal. In the zodiac cycle, it is the year of the Ox. So, 2021 is: Yin Metal Ox.
Another difference between Western and Chinese astrology is that the zodiac sign cycle is founded on Chinese New Year—which begins its calendar based on the moon’s cycles. So, the start of the Chinese calendar year varies; it ranges from late January to early February.
For that reason, it’s possible for someone who was born before Chinese New Year to associate themselves with the zodiac symbol of the year prior. If you were born in January or early February, it’s possible you may have identified with the wrong zodiac sign. To make sure you’re identifying with the correct zodiac sign, check out our 2021 Chinese horoscope report.
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