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Chinese Zodiac Signs and Meanings: A Complete Guide

Ancient Theory

Author: Ancient Theory

Published: February 28, 2023 / Updated: March 17, 2023

Emerging more than 3,000 years ago, much earlier than European astrology, the Chinese zodiac has become a serious competitor to the Western zodiac system in determining people's character.

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Chinese Zodiac Signs and Meanings: A Complete Guide

The Chinese zodiac is based on the phases of the moon, while the European zodiac forecasts according to the Sun’s and stars’ alignment.

Chinese astrologers believed that a combination of a person’s birth date – day, month, and year – can reveal enough information about that person, including their personality traits, compatibility or incompatibility with other people, career choices, health, and lifestyle in general.

Astrology has played an essential role in Chinese culture for thousands of years. 

The circular graph of the twelve animals representing the twelve-year cycle of the Chinese lunar calendar was achieved based on Chinese astronomy and astrology.

Although there are numerous legends about the creation of the Chinese zodiac, the reality of their emergence is simple.

It was much easier for people to remember what each of the twelve animals represented than to understand the more complicated relationship between the twelve earthly branches, the ten celestial stems, the five primordial elements, and the opposing forces of yin and yang.

If you are wondering what your sign in the Chinese zodiac is or what element you belong to in the Chinese calendar according to your birth year, consult the following information:

Chinese zodiac: Rat

The Rat is a hardworking, conscientious, thrifty, and meticulous individual. 

They like to accumulate goods, objects, wealth, and money. With a rather reserved appearance, they are, in reality, agitated and nervous people who wear themselves out without seeming to.

Individualistic, they do everything only for themselves, especially in their profession. 

Ambitious, they may sometimes resort to embezzlement to succeed. Yet, they are more honest, though the lure of high posts sometimes proves stronger than their capabilities.

The Rat is not malicious or misanthropic. 

Family and friends are important to them, but they prefer to sacrifice themselves for freedom. 

Unfortunately, in their case, freedom equals loneliness, and they do not like loneliness. How can they “dig their burrow” if they are alone, without support, relationships, or lieutenants around them?

In the end, the Rat prefers collectivity, where they can exploit their actions, ideas, and imagination.

Enchanting, the Rat can love madly without the object of their passion noticing. This is because they fear losing their freedom and thus refuse to show their feelings in their entirety. 

For the same reason, they can resort to lies, thus increasing misunderstandings and often ending up unhappy in love, and only because of themselves.


Compared to the bull, the ox symbolizes goodness, calmness, and quiet strength: a symbol of hard work and sacrifice. But this Ox may, in fact, be a bull, as the Ox and bull only differ by certain symbolic aspects and interpretations. 

The ox, the faithful servant of man, is respected in East Asia. Wise men ride it. 

Indeed, there is an aspect of gentleness and detachment in their attitude. Statues of oxes are commonly seen in temples. 

But in ancient China, an earth bull represented the cold thrown out in the spring to facilitate the revival of nature; it is a typical yin emblem.

Therefore, the Ox is an individual who is slow, stable, and reliable. Honest and solid, they refuse mediocre compromises and lies. 

They see things clearly and correctly. In their work, they reach key positions only through their own merits. 

The same goes for the Ox’s private life. 

Too little romantic and too little inclined to reveal their feelings, they risk remaining single, fearing being hurt or rejected. Their main aim is the establishment of a home. 

The Ox always looks for a life partner rationally.

Chinese zodiac: Tiger

The tiger is often associated with power and cruelty. Still, it’s important to note that it’s not always a negative symbol. 

As a predator, it’s a symbol of the warrior caste.

The tiger is opposed to the dragon in geomancy and the Chinese zodiac. While it is considered a malefic symbol in geomancy, it embodies an active principle, energy, in opposition to the wet and passive principle in the Chinese zodiac.

The Five Tigers, symbols of protective strength, guard the four cardinal points and the center. 

In Chinese history and legends, on multiple occasions, squads of brave warriors protecting the empire are also referred to as the Five Tigers (Wu ho).

A white tiger is a sign of royal virtue, and it’s associated with the winter solstice as it devours malefic influences.

In the Chinese zodiac, Tigers are hyper-independent, hyper-egocentric, and always seeking to be the center of attention. 

They live at two hundred miles an hour, wanting to see everything, hear everything, and do everything. 

Sometimes they can be paranoid. Dynamic, impulsive, and always looking for an excellent deal to increase their wealth and glory, they don’t shy away from taking risks, even if it means losing everything.

Despite their intense drive and independence, Tigers can be very close and hyper-sympathetic. 

They radiate friendship around them and draw their entire entourage after them. 

When in love, a Tiger can be charming and romantic, but they can also be possessive and hard to get away from.


To understand the meaning of rabbits, wild or domestic, it’s important to take into account the extreme importance of the Selenar bestiary in the underlying tapestry of deep dreaming, in which the archetypes of the symbolic world are inscribed. 

They are familiar companions of the moonlight of the imaginary and are found in all mythologies, beliefs, and folklore.

Wild or domestic rabbits are linked to the old Earth-Mother deity, the symbolism of the fecund and regenerative waters, vegetation, and the ceaseless renewal of life in all its forms.

In the Chinese zodiac, the Rabbit is a calm and peaceful individual. 

They are witty and can be enjoyable to be around. They seek a balance between too much and too little, and their life unfolds without surprises or conflicts as they have a horror of quarrels.

They also enjoy calm and security, but they nonetheless appreciate friendly reunions or cocktails. 

Cultured and knowledgeable, they know how to hold a conversation, but they can be a little categorical when they display too much knowledge. 

A little snobbish, they enjoy everything comfortable, luxurious, and refined. 

However, their calm and wise appearances hide shyness, and they can sometimes be scared and timid.

In their personal life, Rabbits seek a calm home and a loving life partner.

They are not necessarily focused on success but enjoy what they do and prioritize their happiness. They don’t overwork themselves and can still peacefully and amiably fight in business. 

Sly and perceptive, they guess their opponent’s intentions and win contracts with a smile. Those who lose to them may consider them hypocritical.

While Rabbits are not tortured by amorous passions, they seek a calm and loving relationship. However, they can also be sensual and not always faithful.


The monkey is well known for its agility, gift of imitation, and buffoonery. 

It is also believed that the monkey has the power to drive away evil spirits, which is why children are often given toy monkeys.

In the Chinese zodiac, the Monkey is lively and versatile and enjoys anything. 

They are friends with whom you will never get bored. 

Ambitious, they want to be the first in everything. Agile, they have the gift of turning situations to their advantage. Cunning, they are the kings and queens of tricks. 

With a creative imagination that’s always in motion, they seek to astonish and often astonish themselves. 

They talk a lot, just for the pleasure of hearing themselves speak (after all, they are a very good orator).

Extraverted, the Monkey individuals are energetic and curious, so they know and befriend people of all kinds. 

They do not hesitate to lie to support their own cause and can sometimes be dishonest. Moreover, they are convinced they are superior to others, which may be the secret of their success.

The Monkey individuals are lucid and see the world as it is. 

Although they leave the impression of children playing, they know it’s better to laugh than to cry! 

From a sentimental point of view, they are known for their superficiality. 

They fall in love quickly, but their passions are short-lasting.

Chinese zodiac: Rooster

The rooster is an emblem of pride based on its appearance and behavior. Because it announces the sunrise, the rooster protects you from the disturbing influences of the night spirits. 

Adorned with the most beautiful feathers, the Roosters of the Chinese zodiac strut pompously. 

They want to be the most beautiful, intelligent, and learned, that is, the navel of the world. That’s why they do not tolerate competition.

Roosters know many things, but unfortunately, their culture is often just a shiny veneer. In a salon, they do wonders as the conversation never gets bogged down. 

In reality, Roosters’ vanity is exacerbated because they are physically and emotionally rigid just to hide their weaknesses, which, in fact, are common to all people. 

But they do not want to admit that. They have no sense of humor and are always afraid of failure or neglecting their duties, which spoils their lives for trivial matters.

In reality, Roosters are too insecure, and they compensate by trying to look confident, and the cycle starts again. Roosters never get entirely rid of his chick skin. And that’s a shame because they are honest, sincere, loyal, and capable of true friendship.

From an emotional point of view, Roosters love to succeed and are motivated by money and honors. They are energetic, tireless, serious, meticulous, and zealous, and you can count on them.


In various mythologies, dogs are often associated with death, Hell, and the Underworld. 

In ancient Egyptian mythology, for instance, Anubis, the jackal-headed god, was the protector of the dead and oversaw the embalming process. 

In Greek mythology, Cerberus, the three-headed dog, guarded the entrance to the Underworld. 

In Norse mythology, Garm was a dog associated with Hel, the realm of the dead.

The symbolism of dogs is also linked to the triad of earth, water, and moon elements, which have occult, female, vegetative, sexual, and divinatory meanings. 

Dogs are also associated with unconscious and subconscious concepts.

In Chinese mythology, dogs accompany immortals on their journey to apotheosis. 

The Great Venerable, who appeared on Mount Tahiche during the Han dynasty, held a yellow dog on a leash. 

The dog of Hanzi turned red like the heavenly dog, grew wings, and became immortal. 

In the Chinese zodiac, Dogs are honored for being honest, loyal, and respectful of morality and duties. 

Although not overly ambitious, they are active workers who like to succeed in what they do. 

Dogs in the Chinese zodiac appreciate justice and equality and have a certain charisma. 

However, they are critical and judgmental, always noticing everything, and nothing escapes their attention. 

They demand a lot from their friends or surroundings but are faithful and always ready to help anyone. 

Dogs are also susceptible to fraud and weaknesses, which can cause them to be pessimistic and anxious.

While Dogs fall in love easily and have deep feelings, they are very strict and demanding in their relationships. Once they attach themselves to someone, they are loyal and passionate.


In contrast to dogs, boars are often associated with dark tendencies such as ignorance, greed, debauchery, and egoism. The symbolism of the boar, of ancient origin, covers most of the Indo-European world.

In the Chinese zodiac, Boars are known for their honesty, hard work, and moral nature. Their most beautiful quality and, paradoxically, their most significant defect is their spiritual purity. 

Boars are the most naive of all the Chinese zodiac animals, believing everything it is told because they cannot imagine being lied to, as they are so honest.

Boars are avid collectors and generous spenders who like to share their wealth. They are appreciated for their relatively balanced nature and good advice. 

Boars are passionate and capable of deep love, but they may not always be faithful due to their desire for freedom.

Chinese zodiac: Dragon

The dragon is often portrayed as a stern guardian or a symbol of demonic and evil tendencies. 

However, the Chinese zodiac’s depiction of the dragon is that of a remarkable and powerful being that symbolizes the emperor. 

The dragon is associated with lightning, for it spits fire, and with fertility, for it brings rain. Thus, it symbolizes the royal function and the rhythms of life that guarantee order and prosperity.

The dragon is a regulating and creating celestial power. It rises to the sky at the spring equinox and plunges into the abyss during the autumn one. 

Despite being considered selfish, haughty, megalomaniacal, proud, and above the small people, Dragons in the Chinese zodiac are people of character and loyalty. 

They are free-thinkers who follow the path they have drawn without deviation. Their life is regulated by duty and justice.

Extroverted Dragons animate the crowd with their words and deeds, and they are admired and adored. 

They are of inexhaustible dynamism, with irreproachable morality, and they do not like weak or dishonorable people.


In the Chinese zodiac, the sinuous Snakes are intelligent and attracted to philosophy, theology, literature, and psychoanalysis. They are great thinkers whose ideas go very far.

Driven by ambition, Snakes will not stay at the bottom of the social ladder and will constantly climb to the top. They want to be first among those who succeed. 

Serious, enigmatic, and playful, they seduce their entourage with great ease, attracting others to them like a magnet.

Nervous, neurotic, or mystical, the Snakes spend their life asking themselves questions, worrying, and judging themselves. 

Passionate and sensual, Snakes in the Chinese zodiac give great importance to physical love, and they are jealous and unfaithful simultaneously.


There is a belief, rooted deep in the collective memory, that at its origin, the horse bursts forth, galloping like blood in its veins, from the depths of darkness, either from the earth’s bowels or from the depths of the seas.

Son of night and mystery, this mystical horse is the bearer of life and death, linked to the fire that destroys and triumphs and the water that nourishes and drowns.

In the Chinese zodiac, the Horse sees the great world as a circus, prancing with joy while wearing feathers and tufts. The public applauds, delighted, and the Horse starts all over again.

According to the Chinese zodiac, Horses know how to live; they are happy, cheerful, passionate, talkative, vigorous, selfish, energetic, tenacious, intelligent, impulsive, curious, comical, and impertinent.

As a big opportunist, the Horse does not lie or change his opinion. Horses love their freedom more than anything else, and trying and impose a line of conduct on them is tough.

Horses love to compete. With such characters, Horses cannot help but be very fickle, even when madly in love.

It must be said that every sixty years (1906-1966-2026), the year of the Fire Horse takes place. People born in those years are more than just average Horses, as all their character traits are exacerbated.

In the East, the year of the Fire Horse is so feared that in 1966, the number of abortions rose spectacularly. 

Being a Fire Horse seems even more disastrous for a woman than for a man, as passion and energy are considered masculine traits.

Chinese zodiac: Goat

Some populations in China link the goat with the god of lightning, where the head of the sacrificed goat serves as its anvil. The same relation is attested in Tibet. 

Essentially, the goat figures are an instrument of heavenly activity in favor of the earth, specifically for the benefit of agriculture and raising livestock.

In the Chinese zodiac, the Goat is happy and does not understand how others can ask so many meaningless questions. 

Goats seek happiness and find it without problems. They are good, generous, amiable, gentle, sincere, and sensitive. Goats easily forgive the evil deeds of others.

Changeable and undecided, Goats sometimes need to figure out what they want, which is why they like to depend on someone else.

Regarding relationships, Goats should search for someone capable of leading, helping them to develop, and supporting them, like a rope tied around the neck, but not too tight!

Chinese Zodiac Compatibility Chart


Best Match: Ox

Compatible with: Monkey, Dragon

Incompatible with: Horse


Best Match: Rat

Compatible with: Snake, Rooster

Incompatible with: Goat


Best Match: Boar

Compatible with: Horse, Dog

Incompatible with: Monkey


Best Match: Dog

Compatible with: Boar, Goat

Incompatible with: Rooster


Best Match: Rooster

Compatible with: Monkey, Rat

Incompatible with: Dog


Best Match: Monkey

Compatible with: Rooster, Ox

Incompatible with: Boar


Best Match: Goat

Compatible with: Tiger, Dog

Incompatible with: Rat


Best Match: Horse

Compatible with: Boar, Rabbit

Incompatible with: Ox


Best Match: Snake

Compatible with: Rat, Dragon

Incompatible with: Tiger


Best Match: Dragon

Compatible with: Snake, Ox

Incompatible with: Rabbit


Best Match: Rabbit

Compatible with: Tiger, Horse

Incompatible with: Dragon


Best Match: Tiger

Compatible with: Rabbit, Goat

Incompatible with: Snake

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  • Chinese zodiac. [Source]
  • Samantha Vincenty - All the Chinese Zodiac Signs and Their Meanings.
  • Kathryn Chou și Samantha Lee - Here's what the Chinese zodiac says about you.
  • What is the Chinese Zodiac? [Source]
  • Chinese Zodiac Signs and Meanings.
  • Goat (zodiac). [Source]