Missed your chance to celebrate New Year properly this year?  According to the lunar calendar, you have another chance.  Traditionally, lunar new year is based on the harvest calendar and is also popularly known as Chinese New Year.  Not only is it the basis for a different set of festivals and holidays from the western calendar, but there are even different animal signs associated with each year.

The Origin of the Chinese Zodiac

Zodiac story in English:

The Chinese zodiac operates on a 12 year cycle, with 12 animals representing each year of the cycle.  There are many different variations in the legend describing how the Chinese zodiac originated.  In China the most famous interpretation was written in the book “The Origin of The 12 Zodiac Signs”, authored by Zongze Mao, published in 1999.

It is said that long ago, the Jade Emperor, who is the master of heaven and earth, decided to select twelve animals for the Chinese zodiac. He was trying to structure time for humans, but the animals of the earth were bickering about who would be the "king of the zodiac”.

The Emperor heard the disturbance and decided to hold a race.  On the day of the race, the rat was most clever.  He saw that the ox was about to win and scampered upon the ox, jumping ahead just before the ox finished the race.

The rat finished first, and one by one, the animals were assigned a year in the zodiac according to the order they finished.  The 12 year cycle became the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, chicken, dog and finally the pig.

Zodiac story in Chinese:


The Chinese New Year 2018 Animal

Another name for the coming of lunar new year is the Spring festival, ushering in a new season.  This year, 2018, is the year of the Dog, the 11th animal in the cycle.  The New Year will be celebrated on February 16.

How To Determine The Year of The Dog

There is a simple way to tell if this is the year of the dog.

If you use current year AD, 2018, divide by 12, and the remainder is 2, then this is the year of dog.

The formula is expressed as: the number of year AD ÷ 12= some integer, and the remainder is 2. For example, 2018 ÷ 12=168, and the remainder is 2.

Horoscope Interpretations For The Year Of the Dog

Chinese folks derive character interpretations from animal signs.  Dogs are man's best friend, of course, and extremely loyal.   They are very engaged in their work and will give it their all.  Generally they work well with others, are honest, with a keen sense of intuition and judgment.  However it is possible to be loyal to a fault and rely overly on trust.

Chinese New Year Sayings For the Year Of the Dog

A new year brings new blessings, and the Chinese have a knack for creativity with word choice.  Many of the new year blessings for this year will revolve around the zodiac animal.

Both of these prints are available as chinese calligraphy art for sale

Prosperous Year Of The Dog

With the Year of the Dog Comes Great Fortune

How The Zodiac Still Matters Today

In modern times, many use the zodiac signs to determine what year people are born in.  It's not considered rude to openly ask a Chinese person, even one you've barely met, what sign they are.  Given the 12 year cycle, it is fairly easy to deduce the exact age from there.

Old superstitions still exist, so there still may be a few million Chinese folks who believe that your horoscope has a decisive impact on your personality, love life, or career choice!

Passing On The Tradition

Folk stories are an important way to keep culture alive!  These childrens' books provide a way to explore with the next generation.

Animal Zodiac Horoscopes

For a look at the rest of the animal zodiac, have a look at this helpful infographic.


The Chinese zodiac is a time honored concept that still holds significance for millions of people around the world.

What else do you find interesting about the Chinese New Year zodiac story?

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