In Chinese New Year, each year is marked by a different animal. What do these animals mean? Learn it all here

All the animal images were from Hallmark, whose web page is also a great source of information about the Chinese zodiac! Please note that the order of the zodiac depicted in the above image is counter clockwise.

What is the Chinese zodiac?

The Chinese zodiac is a repeating twelve-year lunar-based cycle, with each year represented by a certain animal. Each zodiac sign has its own particular attributes, which are believed to influence the personality and life events of the people born under each zodiac sign. The most famous aspect of the zodiac cycle is the assignment of animal signs by the year of birth, but people can also be assigned additional zodiac signs by the month, day, and hour of their birth. On each Lunar New Year, a new animal comes in with the new lunar-based year. The origin of the zodiac signs would be retold through a famous folktale about the Zodiac Race, which you can read below!

Find your zodiac sign and see what your sign says about you! Do you think your sign’s description is accurate?

or do simple math: take your birth year and divide it by 12 and use the remainder to find your sign:


Rat (鼠)

Years: 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008, 2020
Famous Rats: Al Gore, Ben Affleck, George Washington, John F. Kennedy, Katy Perry, Prince Harry, Scarlett Johansson, Shaquille O’Neil, Truman Capote, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Zhuangzi

Quick-witted, resourceful, and versatile, Rats quickly respond and adapt to their environments, so they can easily take advantage of various opportunities. They possess a strong sense of curiosity and an active nature, and they are meticulous about their work. Rats are outgoing and enjoy making new friends, but they seldom further their relationships with others. Additionally, they can be picky, stubborn, and narrow-minded, and their lack of courage and command skills hinder their leadership capabilities.

Ox (牛)


Years: 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009, 2021
Famous Oxen: Napoleon Bonaparte, Barack Obama, Charlie Chaplin, Vincent van Gogh, Walt Disney, Heinz Christian Anderson, Kiera Knightley, Rosa Parks, George Clooney, Jack Nicholson, Li Bai

The most dependable of the zodiac signs, the Ox is known for its honesty, diligence, patience, and determination. Oxen possess strong ideals and ambition, and they always prepare a definite, detailed plan before taking action. They have a keen eye for detail and a strong devotion to their work, but their stubbornness in doing things in accordance with their own ideas and capabilities makes them inflexible and spending too much time in their work. Oxen are also poor at communicating with others, which may make them seem distant and antisocial, but they cherish their friends and family.

Tiger (虎)


Years: 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010, 2022
Famous Tigers: Ludwig von Beethoven, Marco Polo, Karl Marx, Marilyn Monroe, Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Cruise, Whoopi Goldberg, Penelope Cruz, Emperor Qin Shi Huang, Sun Yat-sen, Zhang Yimou

Independent and self-confident, Tigers are powerful leaders who boldly express themselves and have the fortitude to handle any challenges that may arise. Their leadership skills are enhanced by their courage and love for challenges. However, due to their authoritative and dominant nature, they dislike obeying others and tend to use commanding means when dealing with interpersonal relationships. Additionally, their stubborn personalities and tough judgment can backfire by making them seem arrogant and short-tempered.

Rabbit (兔)


Years: 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011, 2023
Famous Rabbits: Queen Victoria, Albert Einstein, Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Whitney Houston, Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Lisa Kudrow, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Jet Li

Rabbits impress others with their grace and gentleness, and they are easily likable because of their considerate, sensitive natures. They avoid confrontation; instead, they seek solutions through compromise and negotiation, which makes them capable of converting enemies into friends. Rabbits are alert and work skillfully and efficiently, but they tend to be overly cautious and hesitant, which may cause them to miss good opportunities. Additionally, Rabbits can be superficial, melancholy, and overly discreet.

Dragon (龍)


Years: 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012, 2024
Famous Dragons: Joan of Arc, Sigmund Freud, Louisa May Alcott, Florence Nightingale, Robin Williams, John Lennon, Salvador Dali, Rihanna, Sandra Bullock, Bruce Lee, Deng Xiaoping

The Dragon is the most powerful creature in the zodiac, possessing great confidence, tenacity, and ambition. People born under this sign enthusiastically embrace challenges and are not afraid to take risks, which leads them to be very enterprising. However, their dominant natures are often perceived to be aggressive, and they are infamous for their hot tempers and sharp tongues. They can be over-confident and conceited, which makes them unreceptive to criticism, and their frank, forthright style of communication can come off as tactless.

Snake (蛇)


Years: 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013, 2025
Famous Snakes: Abraham Lincoln, Audrey Hepburn, Muhammad Ali, Mahatma Gandhi, Charles Darwin, Picasso, Martha Stewart, Shakira, Daniel Radcliffe, Liu Bang, Mao Zedong

Regarded as intelligent, albeit enigmatic, creatures in Chinese mythology, the Snake is a symbol of wisdom and wit. Snakes are the most intuitive of all the creatures in the Zodiac, and their calm, extremely analytical natures allow them easily to solve complex problems and thrive under tight deadlines. They are humorous, creative, and diligent; however, they easily become bored and can come off as overly laid-back. Snakes easily become jealous and suspicious, and they tend to be materialistic and need to feel a strong sense of security.

Horse (馬)


Years: 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014, 2026
Famous Horses: Davy Crockett, Louis May Alcott, Rembrandt, Isaac Newton, Denzel Washington, Oprah Winfrey, Kobe Bryant, Chopin, Teddy Roosevelt, Genghis Khan, Jackie Chan

Extremely animated, spontaneous, and energetic, Horses enjoy being the center of attention and easily get along with others, especially with their amiable personalities and deft sense of humor. They easily grasp new concepts, and their independence and integrity help them become leaders who can effectively communicate and make decisions. However, they dislike taking orders and lack persistence because they are easily bored by routine. They also tend to lack confidence and be self-centered.

Goat (羊)


Years: 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015, 2027
Famous Goats: Michelangelo, Mark Twain, Thomas Edison, Nicole Kidman, Barbara Walters, Orville Wright, Julia Roberts, Zhang Ziyi, Li Shimin, Cao Cao, Chow Yun-Fat

Goats are mild-mannered and calm, but don’t be fooled; they are very tough on the inside, possessing great inner resilience and perseverance. They are also considerate and polite, willing to take good care of others, especially their close friends. Although Goats prefer to be in groups, they are nevertheless reserved and shy, preferring to avoid the spotlight and instead enjoy their own thoughts.  As a result of their timidity, Goats struggle to open up to others and form new friendships, so it may take a lot of time and effort to befriend and get to know them. They can also be pessimistic and indecisive.

Monkey (猴)


Years: 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016, 2028
Famous Monkeys: Leonardo da Vinci, Charles Dickens, Christina Aguilera, Celine Dion, Tom Hanks, Will Smith, Julius Caesar, Eleanor Roosevelt, Elizabeth Taylor, Betsy Ross, Yao Ming

Clever and witty, Monkeys are often the center of attention due to their charisma and sense of humor. They are also creative experts at solving problems, easily picking up new skills and adapting to different environments, and they thrive on being challenged. However, the mischievousness of Monkeys can backfire when they take practical jokes too far and end up hurting others’ feelings. Their opportunistic natures can come off as cunning and unscrupulous, and they have short tempers and can be self-centered.

Chicken (雞)


Years: 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017, 2029
Famous Roosters: Britney Spears, Elton John, Jennifer Aniston, Cate Blanchett, Catherine the Great, Diane Sawyer, Amelia Earhart, Groucho Marx, Mencius, Zhuge Liang

The most motivated animals in the zodiac, chickens are hardworking and resourceful, able to develop many talents as they work towards their ambitious goals. They are frank and honest, always making sure to keep their promises, and they are very loyal to their friends. Additionally, Roosters are confident and charming, but their love for the spotlight often leads them to brag about themselves and their accomplishments. They are also sensitive, moody, and very vain about their appearances.

Dog (狗)


Years: 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018, 2030
Famous Dogs: Winston Churchill, Benjamin Franklin, George Gershwin, Voltaire, Jane Goodall, Socrates, Michael Jackson, Madonna, Kelly Clarkson, Confucius, Sun Quan

Honest, faithful, and sincere, Dogs are extremely loyal. They are straightforward, valuing honor and tradition, and they have strong morals and a profound sense of justice. Because of their cautious and conservative natures, Dogs are not good at communication, and they struggle to befriend and socialize with others. However, they are faithful and generous to their close friends, and they enjoy helping others. Their independence is often interpreted as stubbornness, and Dogs tend to be judgmental, defensive, pessimistic, and overly anxious.

Pig (豬)


Years: 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019, 2031
Famous Pigs: Henry VIII, Oliver Cromwell, Ernest Hemingway, Stephen King, Alfred Hitchcock, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Hillary Clinton, Ronald Reagan, Carrie Underwood, Mila Kunis, Chiang Kai-Shek

Last, but certainly not least, are the caring, compassionate Pigs, who are popular because of their kindness, sincerity, and faithfulness to their friends. However, because Pigs are naive and gullible, many people easily take advantage of their obliging, generous natures. Pigs are also responsible and creative, and they deal with difficult problems calmly and carefully. However, they struggle with jealousy and possessiveness, and they can be over-indulgent, short-tempered, and lazy.