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What is the myth of the Chinese zodiac and what animal are you?

Welcome to the enchanting world of ancient Chinese astronomy and astrology. The 12 zodiac animals first appeared in the Zhan Guo period (5th century B.C.). No one knows the exact date as of when the zodiac was essentially created, but they were officially identified during the Han Dynasty (206 B.C.–9 A.D.), which was over 2000 years ago.


The legend behind the Chinese zodiac is based on a race organised by the Jade Emperor, the ruler of heaven, to determine the order of the zodiac animals. The Jade Emperor was one of the most important gods in traditional Chinese religion. As the story goes, the Emperor wanted a way to measure time, so he decided to hold a great race. He invited all the animals to participate, and the order in which they finished the race would determine their position in the zodiac. The animals set out to race across a river, and the order in which they arrived on the other side became the sequence of the Chinese zodiac. So who won?


The 12 Chinese zodiac animals
The 12 zodiac animals first appeared in the Zhan Guo period (5th century B.C.)

The legend of the Chinese zodiac animals

In the celestial race, the Jade Emperor initially intended to grant the honourable position of being first to the Ox, due to its honest and diligent nature. However, cleverly, the Rat secretly hitched a ride on the Ox's back, cunningly securing the top spot at the last moment.

Behind them, the Tiger was bestowed with the title of the King of the Forest, ranking 3rd place after the Ox. The Hare proved its swiftness and claimed the 4th position, overtaking the Dragon in a thrilling race. The Dragon earned the prestigious title of Lord of the Sea and came in 5th place.

Following closely were the Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, and Rooster. The Dog managed to secure the 11th place, while the Pig found itself in the last position, completing the lineup of the celestial race.


How do I know what Chinese animal I am?

The following birth years show what zodiac sign you are:

  1. Rat: 1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008, 2020

  2. Ox: 1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009, 2021

  3. Tiger: 1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010, 2022

  4. Hare: 1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011, 2023

  5. Dragon: 1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012, 2024

  6. Snake: 1929, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013, 2025

  7. Horse: 1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014, 2026

  8. Goat: 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015, 2027

  9. Monkey: 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016, 2028

  10. Rooster: 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017, 2029

  11. Dog: 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018, 2030

  12. Pig: 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019, 2031

The Chinese New Year changes every year as it's based on the lunar calendar so if you are born in January or February, your zodiac animal might be the year before.


What are the 5 Chinese elements in Chinese astrology?

As well as the 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac, there are five elements in Chinese astrology that are integral to Chinese philosophy and culture. The five elements include:

  • Metal = the resilient competitors

  • Water = the adaptable philosophers

  • Wood = the wise socialites

  • Fire = the impulsive thrill-seekers

  • Earth = the grounded nurturers

In Cosmic Fusion's unique system, both the Chinese element and animal are paired with one of the 12 Western zodiac signs. To uncover your Western and Chinese zodiac sign, download our app on Apple or Android.

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