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In the Chinese calendar, each year is assigned an animal. Simply look at the year you were born and you will know your Chinese Zodiac sign. There are twelve different animal signs, so every 12 years the cycle repeats.

There is a Chinese legend that says that the twelve animals quarreled one day as to who would get to head the cycle of years. They decided to hold a contest and the animal to reach the opposite bank of the river would be first, and the rest of the animals would receive their years according to their finish. The animals gathered at the river bank and jumped in. The rat jumped on the ox’s back and as the ox was about to reach the shore, the rat jumped off and won the race. So that is why the rat is the first year, and the ox the second.

The animal signs have developed into a kind of horoscope that explains the temperament of a person born in a particular year.

The animal signs are also useful in figuring out a person’s age. Rather than ask directly how old a person is, people often ask what their animal sign is. This puts the person’s age within a 12 year cycle.

The Year of the RAT:

1912, 1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996
Charming, attractive, hard working, perfectionists. Thrifty, easily angered, love to gossip. Ambitious, successful.
Most compatible with: Dragon, Monkey, Ox.

The Year of the OX:

1913, 1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997
Patient, inspiring, eloquent speakers. Easy-going, but easily angered. Stubborn. Mentally and physically alert.
Most compatible with: Snake, Rooster, Rat.

The Year of the TIGER:

1914, 1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998
Sensitive, deep thinkers, sympathetic. Short tempered. Can be suspicious of others, and come into conflict with people in authority. Courageous, powerful.
Most compatible with: Horses, Dragons, Dogs.

The Year of the RABBIT:

1915, 1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999
Articulate, talented, ambitious. Virtuous, reserved, tasteful. Financially lucky. Conservative, wise, tactful, kind.
Most compatible with: Sheep, Pig, Dog.

The Year of the DRAGON:

1916, 1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000
Healthy, energetic, excitable, short-tempered, stubborn. Honest, sensitive, brave. Eccentric. Soft-hearted.
Most compatible with: Rat, Snake, Monkey, Rooster.

The Year of the SNAKE:

1917, 1929, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001
Deep, wise. Financially fortunate. Can be vain, selfish, stingy. Sympathetic, likes to help others. Determined, intense. Can be fickle.
Most compatible with: Ox, Rooster.

The Year of the HORSE:

1918, 1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002
Popular, cheerful, perceptive, good with money. May talk too much. Wise, talented, good with hands. Impatient, independent.
Most compatible with: Tiger, Dog, Sheep.

The Year of the RAM:

1919, 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003
Elegant, artistic. Shy, pessimistic. Can be deeply religious. Passionate about what they do and believe in. Wise, gentle, compassionate.
Most compatible with: Rabbit, Pig, Horse.

The Year of the MONKEY:

1920, 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004
Clever, skillful, flexible, inventive, original. Good problem solvers. Can be too agreeable. Desire for knowledge, good memory.
Most compatible with: Dragon, Rat.

The Year of the ROOSTER:

1921, 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005
Capable, talented, deep thinkers. Emotional, moody, interesting, courageous. Like to be busy, hate to fail. Can be loners.
Most compatible with: Ox, Snake, Dragon.

The Year of the DOG:

1922, 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006
Loyal, honest. They always have money. Can be selfish, stubborn, eccentric. Can be emotionally cold, distant. Good leaders, sharp tongues.
Most compatible with: Horse, Tiger, Rabbit.

The Year of the PIG:

1923, 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007
Chivalrous, gallant, strong, honest. Loyal friends. Good students, well informed. Quick tempered, but hate arguments. Good at working out problems.
Most compatible with: Rabbit, Sheep.