Each animal represents a different year. People are identified with the animal of the zodiac for the year in which they were born. Rat, Ox, Cow, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Chicken, Dog, and Pig are the 12 animals in sequence. The animals of the zodiac can also signify the hours of the day and the directions. For example, the Rat is associated with morning and east, the Tiger with afternoon and south, and so on.
The zodiac has been used by many cultures throughout history. It's common to see references to the zodiac in modern literature and art. For example, Romeo and Juliet are said to have been born under the same zodiac sign: the Ram.
In China, the zodiac has been used since about 300 BC. It was originally based on the tracks that animals left in the soil after they had passed by a certain point. The ancient Chinese believed that each species of animal left its mark on the ground - a rat burrowed here, a ox-yoke mark there, a tiger's clawprint this way. By studying these marks, the stars they came from could be guessed at, and someone from that constellation would be expected to share some qualities with the animals involved.
Over time, more accurate methods were developed to identify people's signs.
The twelve animals symbolize the Chinese zodiac signs (or sheng xiao, which translates to "birth + resemblance"); they are the Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat (or Sheep), Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig, in that order. Your astrological sign is merely one component of the puzzle. The other parts include your sun sign (which we will get to in a moment) and your birth date.
Here's how the twelve animals relate to the zodiac signs: The Rat is born when the Moon is with Jupiter and Venus, indicating intellectual understanding and high morals. The Ox is born when the Moon is with Saturn, suggesting that hard work should be used to achieve success. The Tiger is born when the Moon is with Uranus, showing originality and courage. The Rabbit is born when the Moon is with Pluto, revealing change and destruction as part of life. The Dragon is born when the Moon is with Mars, demonstrating strength and willpower. The Snake is born when the Moon is with Mercury, showing communication skills and intelligence. The Horse is born when the Moon is with the Sun, indicating passion and enthusiasm. The Goat is born when the Moon is with 17th-century comet Johann Palisa, showing innovation and progress. The Monkey is born when the Moon is with 9th-century asterism Luhyu, showing creativity. The Rooster is born when the Moon is with Sagittarius, indicating expansion of mind and culture.
Every 12 years, each zodiac animal's year rolls around, and each year is connected with a zodiac animal. The most recent years for each zodiac sign are displayed here. The ancient Chinese gave psychological attributes to each Chinese zodiac animal. Chinese people think that these characteristics will be incorporated in people based on their zodiac sign. These attributes include being creative or sentimental, intelligent or intuitive, dependable or erratic.
The rat appears in January 2020. The ox appears in February 2024. The tiger appears in March 2028. The rabbit appears in April 2032. The dragon appears in June 2036. The snake appears in August 2040. The horse appears in October 2044. The sheep appears in December 2048.
Zodiac signs were used by Chinese people to determine personality traits, life goals, and even marriage partners. This system was very popular in China and other Asian countries. In fact, it is still widely used in Asia today. However, in Europe and America, people prefer using their birth date to determine their zodiac sign. As you can see, there is no single standard method for determining one's zodiac sign everywhere in the world.
In conclusion, the Chinese zodiac is a system used by many Asians to understand themselves and the world around them. Although it has been adopted in some parts of Europe and America, it wasn't originally created in these regions.