Analysis: Chinese people believe the year a person is born determines their personality traits, career, marriage, compatibility and fortune

With the Chinese New Year coming up, it is worth trying to understand the Chinese Zodiac. The zodiac and its variations are popular in many East Asian and Southeast Asian countries, such as Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Singapore and Thailand.

The Chinese zodiac consists of a 12-year cycle, each year is named after a different animal: Mouse, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig. It might be surprising that the twelve-year cycle should start with the year of the Mouse, the smallest of the twelve animals.

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From TED-Ed, Megan Campisi and Pen-Pen Chen recount the classic myth behind the Chinese Zodiac

As the legend goes, there was a bitter quarrel among the animals as to who would be included on the list of 12 zodiac signs and the rank in the cycle. Finally, they decided to settle the dispute with "the Great Race". During the race, the robust ox was in the lead all the way, but he did not notice that the tiny mouse had hopped on his back. As the ox was approaching the end, the mouse jumped down and hit the finish line first. The disappointed ox had to settle for second place. The pig finished last in the race and accordingly was assigned to the final year of the cycle.

You may ask why the cat was not included among the 12 zodiac signs. The answer is a story of friendship and betrayal. The cat and mouse were best friends. The cat liked to sleep late so he asked the mouse to wake him up on the morning of registration for "the Great Race". The mouse agreed to do so.

The next day, the mouse woke up early and thought 'the cat runs faster than me. If I wake him up, he will get there ahead of me' so she didn't wake the cat. The cat woke up, was late for the race, came in 13th and that is why the cat is missing from the Chinese zodiac. Filled with rage, the cat chased the mouse he once thought of as a friend. Since that time, the cat and mouse have been sworn enemies.

Chinese Zodiac years are generally dated by the Chinese lunar calendar (starting at Chinese New Year). According to the Chinese zodiac cycle, 2023 is the year of the Rabbit, starting from Chinese New Year on January 22nd, 2023 and lasting to February 9th, 2024.

The Rabbit is a symbol of longevity, peace, prosperity and wit in Chinese culture. Chinese people believe the year a person is born determines their personality traits, career, marriage, compatibility and fortune. Let’s have a look at each zodiac sign of the 12 animals.

The Mouse

Years: 1900, 1912, 1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008, 2020, 2032.

Strengths: Adaptive, smart, resourceful, optimistic, outgoing

Weaknesses: Timid, picky, deceitful, lack of persistence, self-centered

Most compatible with: Dragon, Monkey, Ox.

The Ox

Years : 1901, 1913, 1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009, 2021, 2033.

Strengths: Faithful, diligent, honest, patient, reliable, responsible, logical

Weaknesses: Conservative, gloomy, stubborn, overcautious

Most compatible with: Snake, Rooster, Mouse

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From TED, ShaoLan Hseuh on how the Chinese zodiac is believed to influence your personality, career, marriage prospects and how you'll do in a given year.

The Tiger

Years: 1902, 1914, 1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010, 2022, 2034.

Strengths: Courageous, confident, competitive, optimistic, adventurous

Weaknesses: Rebellious, emotional, dramatic, selfish

Most compatible with: Horse, Dragon, Dog

The Rabbit

Years: 1903, 1915, 1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011, 2023, 2035.

Strengths: Gentle, elegant, kind, sensitive, witty

Weaknesses: Vain, superficial

Most compatible with: Goat, Pig, Dog, Monkey

The Dragon

Years: 1904, 1916, 1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012, 2024, 2036.

Strengths: Confident, energetic, intelligent, strong

Weaknesses: Arrogant, aggressive, impatient

Most compatible with: Mouse, Snake, Monkey, Rooster

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From RTÉ Radio 1's Ray D'Arcy Show in 2021, former Lord Mayor of Dublin Hazel Chu on the traditions around the Chinese New Year

The Snake

Years: 1905, 1917, 1929, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013, 2025, 2037.

Strengths: Talented, calm, curious, graceful, mysterious, wise

Weaknesses: Possessive, jealous, suspicious, greedy

Most compatible with: Ox and Rooster

The Horse

Years: 1906, 1918, 1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014, 2026, 2038.

Strengths: Active, cheerful, charismatic, considerate, energetic, independent

Weaknesses: Hypocritic, overconfident, stubborn

Most compatible with: Tiger, Dog, Goat, Rabbit

The Goat

Years: 1907, 1919, 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015, 2027, 2039.

Strengths: Gentle, artistic, calm, creative, imaginative, sociable, sympathetic

Weaknesses: Indecisive, impractical, negative, sentimental

Most compatible with: Rabbit, Pig, Horse

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From RTÉ Radio 1's Morning Ireland in 2019, Cian McCormack reports on the Chinese New Year festival in Dublin

The Monkey

Years: 1908, 1920, 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016, 2028, 2040.

Strengths: Intelligent, flexible, lively, versatile, humorous

Weaknesses: Impatient, tricky, opportunistic

Most compatible with: Dragon, Mouse, Ox, Rabbit

The Rooster

Years: 1909, 1921, 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017, 2029, 2041.

Strengths: Ambitious, observant, warm-hearted, outgoing, humorous, independent

Weaknesses: Impatient, self-righteous, egoistic, boastful

Most compatible with: Ox, Snake, Dragon

The Dog

Years: 1910, 1922, 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018, 2030, 2042.

Strengths: Brave, loyal, quick-witted, clever, lively, responsible

Weaknesses: Sensitive, stubborn, emotional

Most compatible with: Horse, Tiger, Rabbit

The Pig

Years: 1911, 1923, 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019, 2031, 2043.

Strengths: Compassionate, caring, diligent, generous, sincere, persuasive

Weaknesses: Realistic, emotional, pessimistic, self-indulgent

Most compatible with: Rabbit, Goat, Tiger

Happy year of the Rabbit! 兔年快乐


The views expressed here are those of the author and do not represent or reflect the views of RTÉ