What are the Symbols of the Chinese Zodiac?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 29 September 2019
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The symbols of the Chinese zodiac are rather complex. When most people think about the Chinese zodiac, they think about the 12 zodiac animals which are known as the Earthly Branches. However, the symbols in the Chinese zodiac also interact with the five elements, called the Heavenly Stems, generating a 60 year cycle which encompasses all 12 animals and each animal's possible five elemental associations. In Chinese astrology, knowing your Earthly Branch is only one part of the equation.

When calculating where your birthday falls within the Chinese zodiac, it is important to remember that the Chinese zodiac runs on a lunar calendar, not the Roman calendar. Therefore, the zodiac symbols change at the lunar new year, rather than on the first of January. As a result, someone born in a year such as 1970 could be a rooster or a dog, depending on his or her date of birth.

In order, the Earthly Branches are: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and boar. Each of these symbols in the Chinese zodiac is associated with specific traits, including things like loyalty, generosity, impatience, kindness, eccentricity, and intelligence, among many others. In addition, someone's character is further determined by which of the Heavenly Stems influences his or her zodiac symbol. The Heavenly Stems are metal, water, wood, fire, and earth, and they can further be broken into yin and yang, with odd years being yin, while even years are yang.


In Chinese astrology, other factors are taken into account when profiling someone as well, including the date and time of birth, and the location at which someone is born. Considering all of the possible permutations can get quite involved and complex, and people who want astrological profiles which conform with the rules of the Chinese zodiac generally go to professionals to ensure that everything is considered.

If you want to find your Chinese zodiac symbol, numerous websites have charts of the Earthly Branches linked to their associated dates of birth in the Roman calendar. It is also possible to find more involved charts which include information about the Heavenly Stems, if you want more precise details about your Chinese zodiac symbol.


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Post 3

Can anyone tell me which Chinese zodiac signs are a good fit with someone who is a snake?

I have been really interested in learning more about the Chinese zodiac snake since I had my horoscope done and felt that the description of the animal personality really matched my own. I was surprised also at how many events in my life could be plotted.

Since I am having a bit of a dating lull, I figured it might be nice to see if I could find a love match based off the Chinese zodiac years. Who knows, maybe it will lead to true love.

Post 2

Knowing your Chinese zodiac horoscope can be a really interesting experience, especially if you have your chart drawn up by an experienced astrologist. When I was visiting South Korea a friend took me to see an elderly Chinese gentleman who did my chart for me, and showed me what traits I had according to the Chinese zodiac calendar.

It is amazing how much the Chinese believe that things like investment and travel decisions should depend on when you were born and what animal you are. For myself I learned that there are certain days I should never start new projects on, and which days are good for me. Interesting stuff.

Post 1

i have been trying to calculate my sons' earthly branch. the calculation i am up to is 2004-1980 (=24) then i am supposed to subtract 12 which leaves me with 12 or 0 if i continue. do you know what to do in this event? thank you for your help.

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