Chinese New Year, also known as Lunar New Year or Spring Festival, always falls on a date between January 21 and February 20. In 2023, Chinese New Year will fall on Sunday, January 22. Besides China, several other Asian countries celebrate the Lunar New Year including Korea, Vietnam, the Philippines, as well as Asian communities all over the world.
A traditional custom associated with the Chinese calendar states that one’s personality is determined by the year they were born in. Each year in the Chinese calendar is represented by an animal known as the Chinese zodiac sign. According to this tradition, you are supposed to have the same traits as the animal that represents the year you are born in. For instance, the lunar year 2023 which starts on January 22 is the year of the Rabbit. Last year, 2022, was the year of the Tiger, and 2021 was the year of the Ox.
If you were born in the year 1982 then you have the characteristics of a dog, if you were born in 1974 you have the traits of a tiger, etc. The Chinese zodiac is woven into the cultural fabric of many Asian cultures and is used to “determine your fortune for the year, marriage compatibility, career path, best times to have a baby, and so much more.” (CNY)
In the spirit of celebrating cultural diversity and love of world cultures, I went ahead and prepared this list of the12 Chinese Zodiac animals that you can share with you students and help them learn more about Chinese New Year and its traditions. The two main sources I drew on are National Geographic Kids (NGK) and Chinesenewyear.net (CNY).
Chinese Zodiac Animals
1. Zodiac animal: Rat
Rat in Chinese culture is associated with affluence, wealth, and surplus. The legend has it that if you were born in the Rat Year (e.g., 1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008, 2020), you will probably have these characteristics: “You see roadblocks as opportunities, and you have tons of creativity that keeps you from getting bored. Your quick thinking helps you overcome sudden shake-ups in your routine.” (NG)
2. Zodiac animal: Ox
Ox in Chinese culture has a special place because of the hard work it can accomplish in the field. It is often associated with honesty, hard-work, respect, diligence, and adaptability. The Ox years are: 1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009, 2021
3. Zodiac animal: Tiger
Legend has it that individuals born in the year of Tiger (e.g., 1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010, 2022) are associated with these attributes: courage, ambition, enthusiasm, generosity, self-confidence, commitment to help others, altruism, sociability, and audacity.
4. Zodiac animal: Rabbit
Rabbits are known for their agility and lightheartedness. If you were born in the Rabbit year (e.g., 1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011, 2023), you are likely an individual who “prefers to figure out things on your own but always think about the best way to say things before speaking. You don’t like picking fights but prefer to chew on the best way to solve a problem before people become upset.” (NG).
5. Zodiac animal: Dragon
Dragons are held in high regard in Chinese culture. Emperors were viewed as ‘reincarnation of dragons’. If you were born in the Dragon year (e.g.,1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012, 2024), you are likely to be associated with the following attributes: standing for one’s family, bravery, ambition, and generosity.
6. Zodiac animal: Snake
If you were born in the Snake year (e.g., 1929, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013, 2025), you are likely to have these traits: thoughtfulness and a profound sense of decision making, you mean what you say, a smart communicator, “you always have the facts to defend your what you think—and rarely back down.” (NG)
7. Zodiac animal: Horse
Horses in Chinese culture stand for agility and freedom and are highly revered. If you were born in the Horse year (e.g.,1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014, 2026), you will exhibit these attributes: being energetic, full of life, goal oriented, sociable, easy going, and free-spirited.
8. Zodiac animal: Goat
In Chinese culture, the goat represents ”filial piety, purity, and kindness’. If you were born in the Goat year (e.g.,1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015, 2027), you will probably have these attributes: easy to get along with people, you have a deep sense of curiosity, and you like to learn new things.
9. Zodiac animal: Monkey
Monkeys are associated with long life and longevity. If you were born in the Monkey year (e.g., 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016, 2028), legend has it that you are a person who is family oriented, you enjoy family get-togethers, indulge in family traditions, and you thrive in group work.
10. Zodiac animal: Rooster
According to ancient myths, roosters “are able to protect against evil spirits. In ancient times, sworn brothers must swear to the heavens, then drip rooster blood into wine and drink it all.” (CNY). If you were born in the Rooster year (e., 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017, 2029), legend has it that you are a person who is well organized, likes to work according to well-planned schedules, and you do your best to succeed at whatever you do.
11. Zodiac animal: Dog
Dogs are universally known for their loyalty and fidelity. If you were born in the Dog year (e.g., 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018, 2030), you are likely to be a person who is loyal, loves to snuggle, is attentive to details, and loves company.
12: Zodiac animal:Pig
If you were born in the Pig year (e.g., 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019, 2031), you are a person who “remember past events well and learn quickly from your mistakes. You enjoy being with a small group of friends or family and are great at coming up with solutions when challenges arise.” (NG)