The Chinese lunar calendar is one of the longest continuous records in existence. It dates from 2637 BCE, when Emperor Huange Ti introduced the first cycle of this Zodiac in the 61st year of his reign.
There are 12 signs, one for each lunar year. However a complete cycle takes 60 years, as the cycle also counts the Five Elements. To fulfill the complete 60-year cycle, each Zodiacal animal sign must be paired with each of the Five Elements (12 x 5 = 60). Legend has it that the 12 animals of the Chinese Zodiac were chosen by Buddha.
When Buddha was near death he invited all the animals to visit him. Only 12 came: the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse goat, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig. For visiting him, Buddha honored each of them to represent the 12 phases of the Zodiac.
While each sign has its own native element, as time cycles through the full 72-year completion of the 12 Zodiac signs in the Five Elements, the interactions between these forces creates a vast number of permutations and combinations resulting in one's unique high and low life cycles, which in turn affect opportunities and challenges for all.
: The Rat's quality is leadership. The Rat can be forthright and ambitious. Deeply involved with family, Rat is secretive yet curious about others. Charm and shrewdness mask their intensity. Rat natives can be quite successful if they become self-aware enough to temper their tendency towards intolerance and ruthlessness.
: Oxen have the quality of endurance. The Ox is strong and patient. Refreshingly unpretentious and resolute. He is quite stubborn, and may even be prejudiced. He will work hard for money and is very dependable. Not one to be involved in 'get rich quick' schemes.
: The Tiger has the quality of idealism. Flamboyant, passionate, powerful, and egotistical, the dynamic Tiger is usually right in the center of the action. He loves making a splash and getting all the attention. Kind and caring of animals and children, he puts 100% into everything he does and is romantic and adventurous. Tiger is a warm friend, and an implacable enemy.
: Rabbit has the quality of love and beauty. The Rabbit is diplomatic and calm. Artistic, sensitive, and moody at times, the Rabbit is gracious, good mannered, and personable. The Rabbit is popular but frequently needs some alone time to recharge. Lucky in business and career, possibly because of their good negotiating skills. Rabbit can hide a cunning mind behind a placid exterior.
: The Dragon is the only mythical creature in the Zodiac and has the quality of leadership. Powerful, brilliant, and full of vitality and blessings, the Dragon is propitious and confident. Dragons are honest, loyal, and ethical. They are larger than life in their actions, ambitious, and willing to take risks. The Dragon is a good friend to have.
: The Snake is quote a paradox: deeply material yet profoundly philosophical. Passionate yet often a spiritual or esoteric seeker, Snake can present a calm exterior yet inside roil with ambition and possessiveness. The Snake is artistic and brilliant, usually with impeccable taste, he must battle his inner tendency to keep and settle scores. Snake is relentless and endlessly patient in pursuit of his goal.
: The horse is proud and independent, highly intelligent and easily bored. Peripatetic, he wants to stay in motion, always discovering new things. A born leader, however Horse doesn't want to unnecessarily be tied down to responsibilities or details. Boundless energy, a delightful companion, and not terribly materialistic or a time-waster.
: Sheep is the most gentle and compassionate sign. Sincere, mild, and friendly, however a bit shy, the Sheep is a good listener but he can also be moody and emotional. Sheep can be very successful but must work at his own pace. He has good fortune because of his kind heart and is artistic, aesthetic, and a lover of beauty.
: The Monkey is clever, versatile, quick-witted, and definitely egotistical about his skills. He is competitive and confident, but he doesn't have enough respect for others. Sometimes it's as if other people don't exist because he's always involved with the shiny toy that is his current project or occupation. His joie de vivre is infectious though, so friends rarely begrudge him.
: Roosters can seem fearless and dashing, but at heart they are organized, efficient, and neat, and in fact quite conservative. Their bravado can mask inner fears and insecurity. Good with money, successful, and always ready to court the eye of the public. Roosters can be somewhat in relationship, as he can be quite critical and won't hesitate to tell you what he really thinks.
: Friendly egalitarian Dog is inspired by a sense of justice and fairness. Forthright and unpretentious, loyal and unmaterialistic, he makes a great partner, friend, or companion. If you seek objectivity, he's your guy. The Dog likes his privacy and will respect yours. He is able to assess people and their motives easily, so please don't try to pull one over on him, as you will fail!
: The kindly Boar is strong and gallant. He is a down-to-earth but sometimes downright hedonistic. However, when it comes to work he can be incredibly focused and has great endurance. He can be almost naive in his acceptance of others at face value, but though he may be duped at times he rarely becomes cynical and pessimistic. A sociable, loving guy who isn't seeking the spotlight.