An Introduction to Chinese Astrology

Chinese astrology is often thought of as a method of fortune telling and prediction that focuses on a symbolic animal associated with an individual based on the year they were born. Just as Western astrology is more than just saying you’re a Cancer or Pisces, so is the meaning of Chinese astrology. It is a practice involving mathematical calculations and various ways of interpreting the results. In this article, you will learn more about the beliefs and methods.


Legend says that one New Year, the Buddha called for all the animals to come to him. However, only twelve animals gathered. Because they responded to his call, the Buddha gave a year to each of the animals that expressed its personality. The years associated with the Chinese New Year not only hold the characteristics of a person born in the year, but also of the symbolic animal. Because of this, certain years become more desirable for putting plans in motion (like opening a new business) or making a life change (such as getting married).  

For individuals, their birth year as well as the current year will come into play as to learning the combinations that brings the best fortune. People usually speak in terms of having a ‘good or bad year’ when referring to Chinese astrology.

Just like with Western astrology, the symbolic animals of two people are thought to influence the love lives of couples. In the past, it was customary for young men in China to present the details of their birth to the father of a woman they wished to make their wife. The parents would then look over the information and decide if the man would be a good match for their daughter.

Chinese astrology relies heavily on the cycles of the moon and does not concentrate on the Sun, stars and planets. Since the lunar calendar differs from the solar calendar, the Chinese New Year falls on a different date each year.

Five Elements

Chinese astrology is not without its usual criticisms. People find it hard to believe that everyone born in a certain year is associated to one of the twelve animals. However, this kind of zodiac system takes into account much more than just the animal. Chinese astrology incorporates other elements to arrive at making zodiac connections. The season, month, day, and hour of a birth is also attached to its own animal. Therefore, an individual is actually comprised of many different animal characteristics. The system involves five elements that go into better understanding the personality of an individual under the Chinese zodiac.

Yang-Yin Pairs

The different contrasts that complement one another in the zodiac are expressed as Yin and Yang. Symbolic animals in years ending in an even number are considered Yang , Rat, Tiger, Monkey, Dog, Horse, and Dragon. Associated with the Yin are years that end in an odd number, such as Cat, Ox, Rooster, Pig, Sheep, and Snake.

Because of this, the animals and their characteristics are often expressed in terms of Yang-Yin pairs.