The 12 Chinese Animal Signs

The Legend

In the Philippines, most Filipinos, especially the Chinoys (Chinese-Filipino) celebrate the Chinese New Year and excitedly welcome the animal sign for that particular year. Chinoy or not, every Filipino wants to know what animal sign the new year ushers in.

There are 12 animals representing a cycle of 12 years and they are ranked as Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig.

Legend has it that the Chinese zodiac signs started when Buddha called all the animals to bid him goodbye before he leaves the Earth. Only 12 animals came to heed his call, so they were all given a place of honor by naming a year after each of them.

But the most popular legend tells of the Jade Emperor’s order to designate animals as calendar signs, and the first 12 animals to arrive would be selected. This legend also illustrates how the cat and the rat have become worst enemies.

The order of the Jade Emperor, the Emperor in Heaven according to Chinese folklore, was heard by the rat and the cat who were neighbors and good friends, and they agreed to go early the next morning. The rat promised his friend, the cat who usually get up late, to wake him up so they can go together.

The next morning, the rat who was so excited, forgot his promise and went on his way alone. He came upon the tiger, ox, horse, and other animals who were also going to the gathering place. The rat noticed that the other animals were running faster than him and he was falling behind, so he came up with a good idea. He asked the ox to carry him and in return he was going to sing for the ox. They arrived at the gathering place first and the ox was happy at the thought that he could sign up first, but the rat slid in front of him and became the first animal to be signed up. He became the first animal sign of the Chinese zodiac while the ox came in second.

The cat was late and came in when the selection was over. He got so angry at the rat and hated him so much. Other stories said that the rat intentionally left the cat behind. That could be the reason that until now, cats would chase and kill rats.

Why are people so interested in these animal signs?

It is believed that the animal ruling one’s birth year has a deep influence on one’s personality, and destiny. Accordingly, there is a general characteristics shared by people born under a specific animal sign.

The 12 Animals

The Rat (Born in 1900, 1912, 1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008)

People born under the rat sign are lovable, charming, intelligent, artistic, and sociable. They are always on the move, and able to accumulate wealth with less effort because they are naturally thrifty and shrewd. Rat people love to gossip and criticize. They are often obsessed with themselves, and are greedy.

The Ox (Born in 1901, 1913, 1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009)

The Ox person is hardworking, and can be depended upon to finish a job. By nature, an ox person is methodical and sticks to routines and tradition. He has a rigid and militant style which makes him unapproachable and intimidating. Although the ox person lacks a sense of humor, and governs his affairs by his head and not his heart, he is an intensely loyal creature, reliable, strong, and determined.

The Tiger (Born in 1902, 1914, 1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010)

Tigers are romantic, charismatic, and independent. They are adventurous, moody, reckless, and impulsive. They are optimists who want to live life to the fullest and on their own terms. Tigers are notorious for being unreliable. The tiger man is brash, and possessive. The tiger woman is vain, and indecisive.

The Rabbit (Born in 1903, 1915, 1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011)

People born under the rabbit sign are friendly, diplomatic, and even-tempered. Because of their discriminating taste, they are refined, cultured, and a bit snobbish. He advances in his career by his good judgment, sound advice, and graciousness. He has few enemies and seldom gets into trouble. Women rabbits are kind, considerate, and caring, but they are superficial.

The Dragon (Born in 1904, 1916, 1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012)

People born under the dragon sign are energetic, self-assured, egocentric, and grandiose. They are the doers of the world. They make things happen, they don’t sit around and wait. They take charge, they take risks. They demand perfection from themselves and from others. Dragon people are quick to forgive because they believe that grudges slow them down.

The Snake (Born in 1905, 1917, 1929, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013)

Those who are born under this sign mull things over before they make an opinion. They are excellent listeners and are philosophical. They are fast learners, and never make the same mistake twice. They are highly skeptical and secretive, they value their privacy. They are distrustful and somewhat unforgiving, with a tendency to be paranoid. Do not cross a snake person or he will strike back at you.

The Horse (Born in 1906, 1918, 1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014)

People born under this sign love their freedom. They want freedom from routine, they don’t want to be roped in. In marriage, they want space. They are industrious, self-reliant, and they love a challenge. They tend to be show-offs, and self-centered. Horse people are hardworking and creative. They are headstrong, and quick-minded who abhor idleness. They are however, poor savers, and think only of now and not the future.

The Goat (Born in 1907, 1919, 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015)

People born under the goat sign are ultra-sensitive, sincere, and gentle. They make an excellent sounding boards but don’t expect them to help you solve your problem. They are prone to stress and depression, they are oftentimes withdrawn, and lazy. Criticisms cause them to brood for days. Their generous nature cause them to overspend. They follow the crowd and rarely lead.

The Monkey (Born in 1908, 1920, 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016)

Monkey people tend to try anything once due to their curiosity. They are eager to learn new skills, performing it over and over again until they have gained mastery. They are intensely competitive. Their mission is to do things better than others. Failure is not an option for them. Extremely intelligent, innovative, and clever, they can excel in any field. However, they are difficult to trust. They tend to be self-centered and wouldn’t care about anyone else.

The Rooster (Born in 1909, 1921, 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017)

Rooster people are proud creatures. They are brutally honest, forthright, and candid. Ask a rooster individual about his opinion, and he tells you exactly what he thinks. He is not a diplomat. Roosters are detail-oriented and perfectionists. They are extremely focused, and have great organizational skills.

The Dog (Born in 1910, 1922, 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018)

The dog person is trustworthy and dutiful, making an excellent leader. Dog people form friendships slowly, they must check people out, watch, and wait. Their friends must win their affection. They are humble, caring little about money. They can lavish you with unconditional love and devotion, but when provoked, a dog person can be fierce and downright nasty.

The Pig (Born in 1911, 1923, 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019)

Pig people have hearts of gold, they are honest, patient, and make an effort to ensure your safety and comfort. They remain a friend for life, and are often taken for granted. They are naïve, gullible, falling prey to charlatans and swindlers. They are selfless, loving, and devoted. Their generosity is the reason they don’t have much money.


These are general characteristics shared by people under each sign. If you find that you don’t exhibit any of the characteristics under your animal sign, don’t despair – like you, those listed under my animal sign is the exact opposite of my character. That could be because you and I are unique!


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