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The Chinese Zodiac

In traditional Chinese culture 12 is an important number when calculating time. There are 12 full moons in a year, with the length of time between the full moons being relatively constant. In traditional Chinese culture, the theory of the day being divided into 12 equal parts was discovered. This discovery led to the development of the 12 month lunar year.

The Chinese began grouping years into a twelve year cycle, assigning each year with an animal symbol. Legend has it that Buddha called a meeting of all the world's animals to determine how to restore order to the world, but only 12 answered his call and these are the animals that represent the 12-year-cycle, with each presiding over a year in the order they arrived at the meeting. The strong ox was in the lead and only had a river to cross to come in first, but little did he know, the cunning rat hitched a ride on his back and became the first to arrive.

The twelve animals are: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig. The 12 animals associated with the years can be used to judge a person's character by their birth year. A person born in the year of a particular animal is said to have the traits of that animal.

Rats are considered aggressive, suspicious, and power hungry but are also honest, generous, and have a sense of fair play.

Those born in the year of the ox are stubborn, but are natural leaders who strive for success.

Tigers are carefree and have happy-go-lucky personalities. They're great to party with, but can be undependable and tend to take risks.

Rabbits aren't risk takers and value security and tranquility. These people avoid conflict and emotional involvement.

Those born in the year of the dragon are bossy, loud and garish, but also popular and successful.

Chinese mythology's icon for cleverness, snakes are known for their abstract thought and idealism.

Those born in the year of the horse are thought to be hard working, considerate but also arrogant.

Sheep are warm-hearted but disorganised and don't respond well to pressure.

Monkeys are intelligent and entertaining, but have a flare for deception. They make close friends, but can't be trusted.

Roosters are courageous, but arrogant and reckless. They're skilled workers and are attentive to details.

Dogs are quiet but intelligent; they're introverted listeners, dedicated and honest but also cynical and prone to letting their anxieties get the better of them.

Pigs are honest and reliable with a thirst for knowledge. They're often successful in financial affairs and dedicate themselves to good affairs.