Unlike the Western linear calendar used in the United States, the Chinese calendar features a cyclical dating method that repeats every 60 years. The calendar is based on two cycles that interact with each other—the Chinese zodiac, which is divided into 12 parts, and the five elements. The five elements are metal, water, wood, fire, and earth.
Each year of the Chinese Zodiac is represented by a different animal: the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig. The five elements are assigned to the 12 animals (years), giving different characteristics to each animal (year). Assigning each of the five elements to the 12 years creates 60 different combinations that results in a 60-year cycle.
Horoscopes were developed around animal signs to predict personality traits and destiny. Each animal is known to have certain characteristics that a person born under the sign would demonstrate. The year a person is born determines their animal sign. For example, a person's animal sign is a rat if they were born in the year of the rat. Animal signs are also assigned by month and hours of the day, which are also broken up into increments of 12. It is important to remember when determining the hour in which you were born, that hours are not based on local time, but in relation to the Sun's location, according to the Chinese Zodiac.
- Rat: quick-witted, smart, charming, and persuasive
- Ox: patient, kind, stubborn, and conservative
- Tiger: authoritative, emotional, courageous, and intense
- Rabbit: popular, compassionate, and sincere
- Dragon: energetic, fearless, warm-hearted, and charismatic
- Snake: charming, gregarious, introverted, generous, and smart
- Horse: energetic, independent, impatient, and enjoy traveling
- Sheep: mild-mannered, shy, kind, and peace-loving
- Monkey: fun, energetic, and active
- Rooster: independent, practical, hard-working, and observant
- Dog: patient, diligent, generous, faithful, and kind
- Pig: loving, tolerant, honest, and appreciative of luxury
related: Shēng Xiào 生肖The Chinese Zodiac
The Chinese Calendar
The Chinese lunisolar calendar is divided into 12 months of 29 or 30 days. The calendar is adjusted to the length of the solar year by the addition of extra months at regular intervals. The years are arranged in major cycles of 60 years.
Each successive year is named after one of 12 animals. (Learn more about the Chinese Zodiac.) These 12-year cycles are continuously repeated. The Chinese New Year is celebrated at the second new moon after the winter solstice and falls between January 21 and February 19 on the Gregorian calendar.
The year 2010 translates to the Chinese year 4707–4708. The year 2011 translates to the Chinese year 4708–4709.