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Fun-Facts: 12 Animals of the Chinese Zodiac

Fun-Facts: 12 Animals of the Chinese Zodiac

posted: 2019-01-24 13:40:00 +0800

There is a lot of speculation about the origins of the Chinese Zodiac and when exactly they appeared. It is a known fact that they have been popular since the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD) but have been seen in much earlier artifacts. The legend of the zodiacs speaks of a great race held by the Jade Emperor in which he called upon the animals of the universe to his palace so that he could select twelve animals to be his guards. The placement of each of the animals in the race became the order of the zodiac. The details of the story vary depending on the teller but each animal had to cross a strong river in order to finish and each animal completed the race in fashions each suiting their personalities, from mischief, to acts of friendship, and heroism. The rat won the race because of his cleverness and trickery against the ox, the tiger and the rabbit were not far behind due to their competitiveness, while the dragon did not come in first because he was busy doing a good deed for the people of earth. The snake guiling used and then scared the horse while the ram, rooster and monkey worked together to get across, while the dog required an extra long bath in the river, and the pig came in last as he required a snack and a nap part-way through.


The zodiacs follow a 12-year cycle, with each year being represented by a different animal and one of the five elements (wood, fire, earth, metal, water). In Chinese astrology, similar to the Western horoscope, the animal’s personality is attributed to a person at birth based on the year they were born in and these traits are how that person perceives themselves and how others also perceive them. Further, there are also animal signs associated with the birth month (inner-self), day (true-self) and hour (secret-self) in order to get a more in-depth perspective of a person’s personality, though these last associations are often overlooked in the Western world. It is also considered bad luck when your year of the zodiac comes around as it offends the God of Age, Tai Sui. To help counter the bad luck you need to wear plenty of red, though these items need to be purchased for you as gifts. You can also wear jade accessories and attempt to face away from Tai Sui, with each year having a different angle according to the Chinese astrologers.

In ancient times, animals were also associated with hours of the day in order to help tell the time. Time was broken up into a twelve, 2-hour segments for each animal. Some scholars believe that the idea of the zodiacs travelled the same route on the Silk Road as Buddhism did, while others believe that the zodiacs predate Buddhism and that the animals originated from nomadic tribes in order to create a calendar based on the animals that the hunted.

While we may never know for sure the true origins of the Chinese zodiacs their place in Chinese culture and tradition are firm and still play apart in society, even if just for fun.

Which one are you?

Rat: (1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008)

Innovative, intelligent, crafty, charming, quick to anger, greedy.


Ox: (1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009)

Honest, patient, hard working, dependable, stubborn.


Tiger: (1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010)

Brave, risk-taker, natural leader, intense, emotional.


Rabbit: (1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011)

Gentle, compassionate, talented, friendly, shy, sentimental.


Dragon: (1952, 1964, 1976, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012)

Energetic, dramatic, perfectionist, compassionate, fearless.


Snake: (1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013)

Graceful, talented, wise, vain, charming.


Horse: (1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014)

Positive, energetic, independent, impatient.


Ram: (1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015)

Loving, elegant, creative, shy, kind.


Monkey: (1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016)

Confident, energetic, happy, active.


Rooster: (1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017)

Punctual, reliable, independent, attention-seeking, observant.


Dog: (1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018)

Patient, diligent, faithful, kind, worry too much.


Pig: (1959,1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019)

Noble, strong, loving, tolerant, appreciate luxury.

This is a Hong Kong GGB original 'Fun-Facts: 12 Animals of the Chinese Zodiac' blogpost.
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blog written by: # Danielle Roberts (118)
Danielle Roberts, Editor

Danielle is a Canadian freelance writer and ESL teacher who has called Hong Kong home since 2016.     > more...

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