Chinese astrology is symbolised by 12 animals for each of the 12 years they represent.
In Chinese astrology, the year you were born, the Chinese year you were born, will depict your journey and characteristics.
The 12 astrological years start with the Rat and end with the Pig, and they are:
Rat, Ox, Tiger, Cat, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig.
The Chinese signs go back, as far as we know, to 2637BC. Always beginning with the Rat and ending with the Pig.
It's quite a philosophical astrology and also relies on the yin and yang as well as the five elements - Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water.
The Chinese calendar has 12-13 moons. This changes the beginning and ending of a year.
A Chinese year can begin anytime from late January to mid February depending on the moon's real cycle.
A Chinese century is 60 years divided by 5 x 12 decades (elements), not 100 divided by 10 decades like the western century.
Hence when we have a Fire Rooster born in 1958, there won't be another Fire Rooster year until the person turns 60.
The 12 Animal Signs Of Chinese Astrology
The Rat can be a hoarder, they like to keep things 'just in case', from old wool yarns to empty shoe boxes.
They have a thirst to excel and reach the top, can be quite sexy and easily get what they want with their charm. Rats can talk and can be quick witted.
The rest of us know pretty quickly who is the boss. They are charming, protective and familial, however catch them on a bad day and they can be picky, anxious, and argumentative, and will let you know their opinion quick smart.
The last year of the Rat was 7th February 2008 - 25th January 2009.
The hard working, sturdy, strong, reliable Ox doesn't give up. Can and will stay working (at their own pace) until the task is finished.
You won't be able to rush them, the Ox works slow and steady. Capable of true and deep love, they can be somewhat shy.
Health is usually good and they can live long healthy lives. Oxen make serious young people however as they age they learn to not take life so seriously, and will lighten up.
On the outside they are authoritative, yet patient on the inside if you can reach in there. They can be prejudiced bigots, with a blind faith.
The last year of the Ox was 26th January 2009 - 13th February 2010.
Tigers are fierce and attractive. Tend to be loners, usually carefree and have fun. The young adults have pretty crazy, full on lives.
Their party lifestyle as youngsters sometimes catches up with them. When this happens they really need to slow down and not be so reckless.
Over 40, most Tigers do start looking after themselves. Lovable and warm hearted, but with a hot head.
Argumentative as they know best, you can never win with them, as they just don't follow the rules. Swift to pounce they can be dynamic and engaging.
The last year of the Tiger was 14th February 2010 - 2nd February 2011.
Cats thrive on peace and balance in their lives. They will do their best to avoid conflict, usually by running and hiding.
Just like a cat, they can be gracious, elegant, yet at the same time nervy.
The Cat has an ability to make a good income without the need to flaunt it. It's important their sign meets a partner who is gentle, like a Goat, Pig or Dog.
For their own sake it's also important they learn to relax more and not worry so much, especially in their later years.
They're a little bit of a hypochondriac, any little pimple will send them to the emergency room. Sensitive, home loving and cultured, but when upset they can become secretive, judgemental and deceptive.
The last year of the Cat was 3rd February 2011 - 22 January 2012.
Oh what a jet setter, confident and never turns down the opportunity to party. Dragons are born with luck on their side.
They are gifted. Their exterior is tough and strong and everybody looks up to them. However deep down under, behind that fiery breath is a very sentimental, tender and soft person.
Stunning to look at, and everybody naturally loves them. Good partners in life would be a Rooster or a Tiger, not so much Oxen or Dogs.
A little advice to a Dragon, try and be a little humble and see the funny side of things, especially when it comes to yourself.
Charismatic, vibrant, noble hearted, but on their bad days they can be dissatisfied, defensive and pompous.
The last year of the Dragon was 23 January 2012 - 9th February 2013.
The Snake is quiet, attractive, and adored by many. Glamorous yet very quiet, unless they have something to talk about, then you'll know.
Snakes love the finer things in life, antiques and such. Like the Dragon, the Snake is adored and loves being in the spotlight.
During early adulthood they can be tiring, and will put your nerves to the test, but go on to enjoy a more relaxed elderly life.
On their good days they are compromising, honorable, and discreet. On their bad days they can hate to lose, and be conniving and grabby.
The last year of the Snake was 10 February 2013 - 30 January 2014.
The Horse is a hard working type. They work hard because they love security and money. As long as they are doing exactly what they want to do they are full of energy.
Somewhat conservative they can still bite with their words, be outspoken and even rude. One of their life's lessons is to learn to control the reactive tongue and uncontrollable anger.
The Horse can be generous, amusing, attractive, and agreeable if they choose. If they don't want to, you're in for a tough time. The Horse can be condescending, moody and pragmatic.
The last year of the Horse was 31 January 2014 - 18th February 2015.
The gentle Goat is gifted and in tune with nature. When the Goat is secure, doted over and loved, they are content. Goats do well partnered with hard working Horses or a rich Pig.
They like to be dependent and looked after. A Goat also does well living as a hippy, or a writer, where they can do things slowly at home in their own time.
Sensitive, and fits well in nature, they need a life where they can do their own thing without the need to worry about money. The Goat has empathy, is compliant and intuitive.
If things are not so good for the Goat they will play the victim and can become nasty, lazy types.
The last year of the Goat was 19th February 2015 - 7th February 2016.
Clever funny cheeky and on the ball. To the Monkey a title is meaningless. Monkeys can lose a great love mid-life, this can give them a change of heart for about seven years.
In late mid-life they will become their old self again. The Monkey can be very agreeable, successful, faithful and co-operative. On a bad day they can be childish, gullible and like to take the spotlight off you.
We are currently in the year of the Monkey from 8th February 2016 - 27th January 2017.
If anyone can bounce back it's a Rooster. They have a lifetime of ups, downs, successes and failures, loves and losses.
Everyone is in awe about how they pick themselves up, ruffle those feathers, and continue on to more wonderful things, beaming once more with enthusiasm and the love of life.
People like to hang with a Rooster and see the new things they are trying. Roosters do well partnered with a good looking Snake or a kind Dog who knows how to boost their confidence, or even a strong fiery Dragon.
The advice for a Rooster, is don't always give away too much about yourself, not everyone is as trusting with your words as you.
On best days Roosters are happy when others know they are the boss, they are tenacious, brave and hard workers, love to dress with plenty of clothes. If ignored Roosters can get moody cranky, cynical and self absorbed.
The next year of the Rooster year will be 28th January 2017 - 15th February 2018.
The Dog adores and laps up affection, they are kind sweet and faithful. If they feel wronged they will bite back, tear you down with a sudden out-of-nowhere outburst of cruel unsuspecting words.
Tradition is important to Dogs. A Dog can tell a when folks are being deceitful easily, but this makes them somewhat pessimistic in life, a worrier, always feeling let down by others.
At a young age they are crusaders helping others who are less fortunate. In peaceful times Dogs are modest, enthusiastic, well meaning and helpful.
When worried they can become nervous, hot tempered, and difficult.
The next year of the Dog will be 16 February 2018 - 4th February 2019.
Pigs live a good life with fine food and dining. They are authentic and have no quirks with excess. However the Pig has the tendency to give away too much.
When they do realise they've been had and taken advantage of, watch out - they can lose it. The Pig can't help being rich and enjoying the finer things in life.
A good match is a Dragon Goat or Cat. The Pig is sensible, self sacrificing, and virtuous. When they know they've been used, they can become angry with rage, authoritarian and stingy.
The next year of the Pig will be 5th February 2019 - 24th January 2020.