Did you know that several Eastern countries follow the Lunar Calendar which is dictated by the cycles of moon phases, rather than the Gregorian calendar that we follow in Australia!
Each year of the calendar is expressed as a combination of a zodiac animal and environmental element – so that the full cycle is 60 years. For example, 2024 is the year of the Wood Dragon. Your year of birth determines your animal and element and you are likely to express the characteristics of both in your personality.
Following the moon phases means that the new year commences on a different day each year – usually between late January and mid-February. This means if your birthday falls in January or February you will need to check what day the Lunar new year started to make sure you have your animal zodiac correct!
Double check the chart below to see the date each lunar year commences:
For example, if you were born on 1st Feb 1997, then your animal is the Rat (the animal in chart for 1996). But if you were born on 21st Feb 1997 then you are an Ox.
Now, if your birthday is between March and December – don’t even worry about the date– find your animal straight away based on your birth year!
The Story of the Order of Animals
The Jade Emperor called a race requesting the Earthly animals to move through the Heavenly Gate and thus determine their ranking in the kingdom as his guards.
The next morning, the rat got up early with sights set on the Heavenly Gate. He came to a fast flowing river and after some time saw the Ox about to cross. The quick-witted and resourceful rat jumped in his ear to hitch a ride. The calm natured ox happily transported the rat, who then jumped from the ox’s ear to gain first place at the Emperors feet. The honest, dependable and hardworking ox was second.
The tiger and rabbit were both competitive and speedy. The tiger was faster and came in third, while the rabbit hopped across the river on stepping stones into fourth place.
The dragon was fifth and was immediately noticed by the Emperor who offered the dragons son 6th place. The dragons son stayed home that day and the crafty snake came forward and told the Emperor that he was the dragons adopted son and so took sixth.
The horse and goat arrived together with kindness and modesty, letting each other go first. The emperor ranked them seventh and eighth for their politeness.
The monkey had fallen behind playing and jumping in the tress, and came in ninth.
The rooster, dog and pig took the last three places.
Below is a description of the characteristics of the each animals. Check which animal you were born under and see if your characteristics reflect that of your birth animal. Then check out your friends and family!
Rats are active, social and make popular company. They make the most of opportunities and are good conversationalists who always make an impression. Due to their observant nature and their ability to appraise situations, a rat will always provide honest and unbiased opinions.
Rats are versatile with wide-ranging skills, who are keen and ambitious. Rats don’t like to miss out, so they can abandon activities if they think there is a better opportunity. They are tidy, but also tend to be hoarders. Rats value money but are prone to lavish and indulgent spending.
Workwise, rats excel in many fields, but professions requiring persuasive skills are well suited. Family life is important. With high energy, enthusiasm, wit and charm, rats fill their days in many ways, and they are fun to be with.
Oxen are valued for their strength, reliability, dependability and hard-working nature. They are traditional, practical and methodical, favouring tried and true methods rather than constant change. When a commitment is made, the ox sees it through. Also making them stubborn!
Oxen are thoughtful and reserved, having a small trusted group of friends. Ox are loyal and protective of those close to them. Once in a chosen career, oxen are likely to stay with it for many years. Ox take pride in their work and have a strong work-ethic..
In relation to money, oxen are cautious and consider purchases carefully, not overindulging while ensuring their own and loved ones needs are well met. Oxen are down to earth and unpretentious, favouring a ‘come as you are’ approach. You always know where you stand with an ox.
Tigers have a strong presence and are courageous, adventurous, creative and innovative. Tigers are natural leaders. Tigers love to pursue new opportunities. They tend to be risk-takers and don’t always think about consequences. Tigers are noble and will always help others in their time of need.
Tigers have many interests and often lead busy and fulfilling lives. Tigers are self-reliant so don’t always seek the help of others. They are keen travellers and like to see new places. They often leave home when they are young and quickly settle down to establish their own home and family.
Tigers are good company and get along well with most people. They have a wide social network and are genuine and honest. They have lots of interests and may change jobs frequently. They thrive when given targets to pursue and are allowed to have creative input. Tigers make good teachers and are well suited to humanitarian work as well as the arts.
Rabbits are peaceful and serene and love scurrying through lush meadows. Rabbits love to be part of group and get involved. Rabbits relate well to other people and are articulate and effective speakers. They have a knack for reading the room and will defuse difficult situations. Rabbits avoid unpleasantness at all costs and always aim to say out of trouble. Rabbits are wary and cautious and so can seem aloof.
Rabbits are keen readers and are well informed, taking their time to build up skills and expertise in their preferred areas. Rabbits like attention to detail and will often specialise in their areas of expertise. While not being competitive, rabbits are risk-adverse and like to feel secure, so their good sense and personable approach will take them a long way.
Rabbits are good with money and think through major purchases to ensure minimal risk. They chose well and appreciate quality, style and aesthetic beauty, so their homes are tasteful, ordered and neat. Rabbits have large families and strive for stability without drama. They enjoy socialising and companionship and make friends easily.
Dragons are flamboyant and colourful, frequently leading the carnival. Dragons are outgoing, with strong will-power and self-belief. They like to be involved in activities with high enthusiasm. Dragons have high standards and make good leaders who are inspiring and garnish good support.
Dragons can be risk-takers and impulsive in their eagarness to secure results. They may also ignore finer details, but they are resilient and thrive on challenges, so setbacks are quickly turned around.
Dragons are ambitious, honourable and hard-working. They become bored with routine, like to be in the spotlight and like to have people around them. Dragons will often be well-off financially due to their hard work and diligence. They like to indulge and are very generous to family and friends. Impulsive decisions may results in financial loss, but this is quickly rectified!
Dragons are honourable and ethical, which can lead to misplaced trust making them open to vulnerability. Dragons love socialising and having fun and often have many friends. They value independence and don’t like to feel restricted, so may remain unattached until they find a like-minded partner.
Snakes are silent, patient and alert, waiting for the perfect moment to act. Snakes have great depth and strength of character and should not be underestimated. Snakes are thinkers who plan and work through options to chose the best way forward. They are not as outgoing as some, but are thoughtful, caring and gentle, with a great sense of humour and engaging conversation.
Snakes study, work and prepare well to work steadily towards their aim and leaving little to chance. They read situations well and have good intuition. They are innovators with original ideas and can make important contributions in areas of science, law, education and finance.
Snakes are shrewd and astute, so plan purchases and investment meticulously. Then can be indulgent and enjoy spending on themselves and loved ones. Snakes can be reserved and guarded until they get to know someone well. They prefer to have few close friends whom they trust and share good rapport. Snakes enjoy adding their personal touch to their surrounds and have a penchant for unusual and eye-catching objects.
Horses are engaging and versatile, with a sense of elegance and exuberance. They delight in conversation and relate well to others. Along with their strong-will, horses are articulate, persuasive, charming and determined, so frequently reach their goals. They can be stubborn, making it difficult to change their mind. Horse have a quick temper with short-lived outbursts in the heat of the moment.
Horses value independence and freedom and are also very social, often being members of groups and clubs with a full social calendar. Horses are competitive, enjoy sport, like to travel and experience new things. Horse are good multi-taskers and make good presenter and entertainers. Horses can change directions quickly and may lack staying power to see a project to the end. With persistence and when motivated by a task they will work long and hard to succeed.
Horses are not materialistic and will put their money to good use – once commitments are covered they enjoy spending on themselves and loved ones or indulging in travel. Horses do not enjoy a routine lifestyle, so while their home will be well-equipped, they will not want to spend all their time there, as there is much else to do!
Goats are friendly, considerate, sociable and peace-loving, and have a talent for blending into their surroundings. Goats embody the essence of the principle of ‘yin’ – being agreeable, kindly and appreciating beauty. Goats love being part of a group, relating well to others with a good sense of fun. They also like to have reassurance and know they have support behind them.
Goats have a good imagination and may excel in arts and crafts. They also think a lot about situations and tend to worry with misplaced doubts. Goats have a great attention to detail, and show great care about the things they do and the people they are with.
Goats excel in careers involving creativity and interacting with others and flourish working with a mentor. Goats like financial security and appreciate quality so may be prone to overspending. They value loyalty and family life, enjoying a peaceful and untroubled existence. Their homes may not be the most tidy, but will be adorned with artwork and mementos, as goats can be quite nostalgic.
Monkeys have a sense of fun! They like to play, swing from branch to branch, as well as sit and ruminate. These qualities make the monkey curious, compelling and fascinating. Monkeys are creative and inventive and have knack for getting themselves out of awkward situations. They are cunning and devious and may bend the rules to get what they need. Monkeys like to read and be well informed, have a remarkable memory and recall, giving them great capacity to learn.
Monkeys make great company and stimulating conversations. They are willing to try new things and have great learning capacity. Monkeys have an active life and their energy, optimism and enterprise will bring good results. They will occasionally take an unwise risk, but as quick learners and optimists they will quickly bounce back.
Monkeys are curious about others, but only impart information they want to. Once monkeys feel settled they often have large families and relate well to children. Monkeys are versatile and are drawn to all manner of professions and certainly go far in the vocation of their choosing. Monkeys are resourceful and use talents in many ways. Monkeys have good money-making skills and are generous to family and friends, but will sometimes need to rein in the budget when lured by temptation!
Roosters are virtuous. Their crown symbolises authority, their spurs represent the military and their early morning crowing displays responsibility and trust. The rooster is courageous and benevolent in sharing their food. Roosters are frank and direct and will stand their ground. Although sometimes they offend, they are well-meaning and honourable.
Roosters dress well and care about their image, sometimes even flamboyant. They love the limelight, enjoy company and conversation and live life to the full. They are well-organised and meticulous planners. Roosters are hard-working and conscientious and set high standards. They are well suited to managerial roles and uniformed professions such as police and military.
Roosters are methodical so keep finances in order, budget carefully and steadily build assets. They like to impress and may spend generously. Roosters have an active lifestyle and like to be a part of clubs and social groups. They are committed, loyal and dependable and will keep an orderly home where everyone is provided for.
Dogs are loyal, faithful and protective, as well as being reliable and trustworthy. They take their duties seriously and are selfless. Of all the animals, the dog is the most altruistic. They dislike injustice, speak out against wrong-doing and champion humanitarian causes. These beliefs can cause dogs to worry, as they do not want to let others down.
Dogs are cautious and do not like to take risks. They like to be sure of themselves before acting. They do not chop and change, but rather find their vocation, build their expertise and remain dedicated and committed for the long term. At work, dogs like to feel they add value, have purpose and frequently inspire others.
Dogs are not particularly interested in money and material possessions. Provided their needs are met and loved ones are provided for, dogs will be content. Dogs may be uncomfortable at large gatherings and prefer to spend time with a small group of friends they trust and know well. Dogs take commitment very seriously and make very loyal friends and partners.
The pig was the last to arrive and so the last to have a year named in their honour and so being born under the sign of the pig is a compliment and honour. Pigs are honest, good-natured and fun-loving. Pigs lead full and content lives by working hard as well as playing hard. Pigs are very social and love meeting others as they relate well, by listening, noticing and empathising. Pigs are kind and thoughtful, and also dislike confrontation – so are able to diffuse awkward situations by bringing calm.
Pigs are trusting and scrupulous so can be naive and learn lessons the hard way. Although they are easy-going they also think a lot and it is difficult to change their mind once it is made up. They take obligations seriously and see commitments through – they enjoy seeing a job well done! Pigs are reliable and persistent in work and have a good business sense. They are competent and personable and others will provide valuable support. They food and culinary arts.
Pigs are adept in money matters and enjoy living well – the can be indulgent and have expensive taste. They are also generous and will support charitable causes. If they encounter misfortune, they will learn their lesson well. Pigs have a good humour, make friends with ease and like to party and socialise. Being easy-going and loyal, they are the animal who tends to find domestic bliss most often. They make sure they live in comfort with loved ones.
Summarised from Somerville, N. (2017). Your Chinese horoscope for each and every year. Harper Collins, London, UK.
The Cycle of Elements
Each element is expressed in the Lunar Calendar for two years. While the cycle of animals was dictated by the story of the Jade Emperor, the cycle of elements was determined by observation of the seasons over 2000 years. The Chinese observed the cycle where one element generates the next – it is called the Sheng or Generating Cycle. It is most easily understood by relating each element to the seasons.
Being circular, the circle may be commenced at any point. Commencing at Water – this element represents Winter – the coldest, darkest season where nature preserves resources, This is seen in the seed that is planted waiting for the right conditions to germinate. Energy is stored in Winter, there is no rush as nature quietly and patiently waits for Spring.
As the the days get warmer there is sudden uprising in nature where the Wood element is expressed in Spring. Plants grow rapidly and strongly upwards. As Wood develops, a strong trunk grows and gives birth to the Fire Element of Summer.
In Summer the growth now spreads outwards and trees grow to their full expansion. It is the hottest and brightest time of the year. The full abundance of growth has only been made possible after the generation of Water and Wood.
What goes up must come down and Chinese identified a fifth season they called Late Summer. This is the Earth Element where the trees round and become heavy with the fruits of the year. Fruit is harvested and the Earth is at its fullest.
The energy continues to fall and nature begins to discard what is no longer needed. In Autumn – the element of Metal – the leaves fall from the trees, plants drop their seeds and return tot the Earth. Here the most precious elements return to the ground, to become the nutrient rich soil for the next cycle. The Metal element is the seen as the vital resources that are found by digging deep into the earth.
This generating cycle of creation is one of the most profound laws of oriental medicine. While the seasons make this cycle understandable, at a macro level the cycle runs for 10 years where natural elements become dominant for a period time, to effectively bring nature into an overall balance. This can be seen in years where fires are prevalent or where unseasonal rain continues at times when rain is not expected. At a more micro level, the elemental cycle moves through the body in a ‘cycle of qi/energy’ – which starts at each inhale of air. But that is a bigger discussion!
Lets take a look at the characteristics of people born in each element:
Water has the virtue of wisdom and is represented by aptitude, brightness, agility and mental strength.
People born in a Water year are adaptable and responsive – as water flows and adapts to to its course. Their nature is often quiet and they have intuitive and questioning minds. Flowing water always finds its course and people born under this element are adept at working ever so slowly and patiently to get the desired outcome.
Wood has the virtue of benevolence and is represented by creativity, luxuriance, blooming and flourishing.
People born in a Wood year are cooperative, principled and work well in teams. As trees grow upwards, the Wood element is expansive, so they may be creative and have a good imagination. They are well organised and reliably see projects through to the end.
Fire has the virtue of propriety and is represented by enthusiasm and passion.
People born in a Fire year possess a great energy like the flames of a fire. They are dynamic and personable with leadership qualities. They are good decision-makers and make the most of each moment. They are willing take risks and love new challenges.
Earth has the virtue of honesty and is represented by nurturing, stability and security.
People born in an Earth year are practical and reliable with good common sense, making them highly dependable. They are good organisers who think and plan to work methodically and patiently work towards their goals.
Metal has the virtue of righteousness and is represented by ambition, determination, progress and persistence.
People born in a Metal year are strong-willed and formidable with a great sense of purpose. They can be stubborn and independent, as well as passionate and firm in their convictions. They can be blunt while being forceful and determined in their activities.