The 12 animal signs of the Taoist zodiac are Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Phoenix (Rooster), Dog, and Pig.
In the distant past, humanity’s relationship with animals was necessary for survival. When animals were domesticated, Taoist priests observed the animals’ traits.
Over the centuries, the priests developed a system of twelve animals for a twelve-year cycle. Human physical and temperamental attributes correlated with certain years.
In the year 2637 BC, the Chinese Emperor Huang Ti standardized this Taoist twelve-year calendar, which has been in continuous use ever since.
If you were born in late January or early February, check a lunar calendar for the exact date of Chinese New Year. Chinese New Year is the second new Moon after Winter Solstice, not January 1st.
Rat is the first sign of the Taoist zodiac. Rat represents the beginning of the winter season (winter solstice) and the seed of new growth. Because Rat is number one, the ability to be first in all things is a Rat trait. This first earthly branch represents December, the eleventh month in the Taoist lunar calendar. December is the time of Sagittarius, Rat’s western counterpart.
RAT YEARS: 1900, 1912, 1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008, 2020
OX is the second sign. This phase represents the beginning stages of a plant’s growth, the seed’s struggle to break out of confinement and sprout. This determination and perseverance in struggle are Ox qualities. This second earthly branch represents January, the twelfth lunar month. January is the time of Capricorn, Ox’s western counterpart.
OX YEARS: 1901, 1913, 1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009, 2021
TIGER is the third sign. This phase is symbolized by the vigilant new sprout that has just broken free from the earth. People born in a Tiger year share the same positive and upward-reaching qualities as a growing sprout. This third earthly branch represents February, the first lunar month. February is the time of Aquarius, Tiger’s western counterpart.
TIGER YEARS: 1902, 1914, 1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010, 2022
RABBIT (Hare, Cat) is the fourth sign. This phase is the beginning of spring. It symbolizes the effortless growth of plants in warm, magical spring light. The gentle qualities of springtime are traits of those born in Rabbit year. This fourth earthly branch represents March, the second lunar month. March is the time of Pisces, Rabbit’s western counterpart.
RABBIT YEARS: 1903, 1915, 1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011, 2023
DRAGON is the fifth sign. This phase happens when plants are growing and vigorously expanding. The life force, the yang part of the universe, is very strong. This powerful life force is fully visible in people who are born in the year of the Dragon. This fifth earthly branch represents April, the third lunar month. April is the time of Aries, Dragon’s western counterpart. DRAGON YEARS: 1904, 1916, 1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012, 2024
SNAKE is the sixth sign. During this phase, plants have completed their growth. This turning point brings the outward growth inward, turning vigor and power into wisdom. These characteristics are reflected in people born in the year of the Snake. This sixth earthly branch symbolizes May, the fourth lunar month. May is the time of Taurus, Snake’s western counterpart. SNAKE YEARS: 1905, 1917, 1929, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013, 2025
HORSE is the seventh sign. This phase occurs when the sun is brightest (summer solstice) and the plants are strong, having reached maturity. Horse people possess a sunny disposition and are bright, open, and cheerful. This seventh earthly branch symbolizes June, the fifth lunar month. June is the time of Gemini, Horse’s western counterpart. HORSE YEARS: 1906, 1918, 1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014, 2026
SHEEP is the eighth sign. It is the phase when plants are ripening and all is peaceful. This gentle peacefulness is the core of Sheep‘s nature. The eighth sign symbolizes July, the sixth lunar month. July is the time of Cancer, Sheep’s western counterpart. SHEEP YEARS: 1907, 1919, 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015, 2027
MONKEY is the ninth sign. During this phase, crops are ready to harvest. That is why Monkeys naturally have so many developed talents and abilities. This ninth earthly branch symbolizes August, the seventh lunar month. August is the time of Leo, Monkey’s western counterpart. MONKEY YEARS: 1908, 1920, 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016, 2028
PHOENIX (Rooster) is the tenth sign. This phase occurs during the month of harvest and prosperity. Responsibility, duty, and satisfaction for work well done characterizes people born in the year of the Phoenix. This tenth earthly branch symbolizes September, the eighth lunar month. September is the time of Virgo, Phoenix’s western counterpart. PHOENIX YEARS: 1909, 1921, 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017, 2029
DOG is the eleventh sign. During this phase plants gradually disintegrate and return to mother earth while the animals prepare for winter. This ability to diligently prepare and be responsible are qualities of those born in the year of the Dog. This eleventh earthly branch symbolizes October, the ninth lunar month. October is the time of Libra, Dog’s western counterpart. DOG YEARS: 1910, 1922, 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018, 2030
PIG is the twelfth sign. This is the phase when earth is at rest in winter, and a sense of peacefulness is prevalent. Love of rest and cultivation of peace are Pig qualities. This twelfth earthly branch symbolizes November, the tenth lunar month. November is the time of Scorpio, Pig’s western counterpart. PIG YEARS: 1911, 1923, 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019, 2031