How Chinese Astrology Works

New Year, New Zodiac Sign

High angle view of a child on the Chinese zodiac wheel, Green Ram Temple (Qingyang Gong).
Chengdu, Sichuan, China, North-East Asia, Asia High angle view of a child on the Chinese zodiac wheel, Green Ram Temple (Qingyang Gong). Krzysztof Dydynski/Getty Images

Editor's Note: Here, guest writer Suzanne White explains the Chinese calendar, and the totem animals that go with each year. I have to admit, I didn't use to put much stock in the idea that all people born in a certain year, had the same traits. 

But lately, I've mused on how my Monkey friends and husband, have a certain twinkle, and playful way about them. Speaking of the Monkey, be sure to read what's in store for the Year of the Monkey, that begins on February 8th.

She also has a Year of the Monkey Horoscope for every Chinese Zodiac Sign.

Twelve Chinese Zodiac Signs

From the Year of the Rat through the Year of the Pig, there are twelve animal signs romping through the Asian or "Chinese" astrological system. To find your own sign, all you need to know is the year of your birth.

Though there are no complicated rising signs nor intricate charts to reckon with, the Chinese New Year falls on a different date each year. It can occur as early as mid-January or as late as mid-February. So if you were born in either of these two months, please enter your birth date on my website for accuracy. A person born in late January of a Snake year might not be a Snake subject, but rather will be given the sign of the preceding Dragon year.

The cycle of the Chinese Zodiac renews itself every dozen years. As luck would have it, 1900 was a Rat year. Since Rat is the first in the series of twelve signs and its year opened our century, we can often calculate the signs of our contemporaries with ease.

The year 2000 was not so convenient. Instead of rounding out nicely to start the new century with a Rat year, 2000 was a Dragon year. The Dragon, unlike the Rat, is not the first sign of the Chinese Zodiac but the fifth. So in this new century, we have to work a bit harder to calculate our Chinese sign.

Lucky Year? 

Every Asian person about to make a major decision: marriage, family, profession, burial, or relocation will first check to see if his sign and those of the people involved indicate that any benefit will result from the anticipated act. In many Asian countries parents still arrange marriages. If the family considers that a Horse son is not well matched to a Rat woman, the wedding will be called off.

Astrology - like various other "ologies" - is yet another way of finding out who we are and how we can be happier. Astrologers do not claim to have all the answers. As a soothsayer, I do not presume to know if you must or must not buy a pickup truck on Thursday, the twenty-ninth of July, 2021.

But what I do know is that the animal symbol that rules the year of your birth has endowed you with certain basic characteristics and helped to define your fundamental nature.

Once you are made aware of your qualities and have accepted certain aspects of your faults, it is conceivable that you will have a better chance of making life cooperate with you. Given definite attributes to work with, you will then possess the wherewithal to fashion your own life to fit your desires and ambitions.

Moreover, as you examine the qualities and faults pertaining to your friends or acquaintances, you may learn why you (and they) behave in ways hitherto incomprehensible.