Chinese Customs and Wisdoms 1.4

1.4 Emotions of Rabbits and Courage of Pigs

Having arranged to meet a friend of mine from the Netherlands for lunch in downtown Beijing recently, we both turned up wearing exactly the same color and style of sweaters. After remarking on this coincidence we forgot it, but at our next lunch we found that our pocket books were of the same color – red. On closer investigation of each other’s backgrounds, it became apparent that many of out idiosyncrasies, reactions to situations and life experiences are the same, despite that we had been brought up in totally different environments. It eventually transpired that we were both born in the Chinese year of Rooster. Whether you believe in the Chinese zodiac or not, in our case it explained everything.

So, what is the Chinese zodiac? And why is it in vogue to the extent that people in Europe and the U.S. want to know everything about it?

Ancient Chinese took animal zodiac signs very seriously, sometimes using them to decide matters of life and death. Detailed horoscopes have also always been a vital aspect of arranged marriages. Tragic partings and broken hearts often followed the discovery that a couple intending to marry had signs in direct opposition, for example, Pig and Dog, Monkey and Rooster, or Tiger and Rabbit.

For centuries Chinese people have believed that Rats bring wealth and take every possible opportunity to prosper. People of this sign (born in 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, etc.)are family-oriented, always the life and soul of every party and company, and generous for loved ones. They are good traders, writers and publicists.

The unpretentious, uncompromising Ox (1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, etc.)works hard no matter what obstacles or difficulties it is confronted by. Sometimes described as obstinate, the Ox is simply persistent. Its attributes are devotion and diligence. Many outstanding surgeons, military people and barbers were born under Ox auspices.

Chinese consider the Tiger (1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, etc.)rather than a lion as king of all animals, so it is no surprise that people of this sign become respected and feared leaders. They are powerful and courageous, but also sensitive, emotional and passionate. Many well-known business tycoons, researchers and athletes are Tigers.

The helplessly emotional Rabbit (1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, etc.)symbolizes faithfulness. People of this sign are intelligent, well mannered and hate discord. They are sensitive, cautious creatures, many of whom are successful businessmen, lawyers, diplomats and actors.

The Dragon (1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, etc.)is the most auspicious of all creatures of the zodiac. It has special significance for symbolizing the Chinese nation. It is therefore no wonder that one of the most outstanding figures in China’s contemporary history – Deng Xiaoping – was born in the year of Dragon. Many readers have undoubtedly seen Bruce Lee’s cult movie “Enter the Dragon” but may be surprised to know that this actor/martial arts expert was also a Dragon.

A person born a Dragon is proud, self-confident, smart and often egoistic. They are intelligent and strive for perfection in everything – from aesthetically pleasing home to their partners in love, but most of all in the work. Many famous artists, clergymen and – as already mentioned – politicians, are Dragons.  

According to legend, the mythical half-human and half-snake brother and sister Fu Xi and Nu Wa were genitors of the Chinese race. This is why the Snake (1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, etc.)is also a very strong sign (Mao Zedong was a Snake). People born in this year are believed to be wise, intuitive, usually softly speaking deep thinkers. As snakes change their skin, so people born that year frequently change their jobs and spheres of interest. Fascinated with the unknown and eager to try everything, they succeed in the least expected fields. Snakes are great teachers, philosophers, writers and psychiatrists.  

The Chinese probably most admire people born in the year of Horse (1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, etc.)for their energy and open-mindedness. They easily make friends and maintain long and harmonious relationships. People born these years like to travel, see new places and generally be where action is. Their ability to work long and hard is impressive. People born under this sign often become scientists, poets and politicians. 

Chinese peopleassociate Sheep (1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, etc.)with peace, and those born under this sign are expected to be friendly and good team workers. Westerners consider sheep as silly but Chinese see them as having strong beliefs and deep compassion. People born in this year are creative, easy going, and have a lively imagination and dry humor. They make fine actors, gardeners and archeologists.


Monkey (1956 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, etc.) is one of the most beloved species in China. The Monkey is believed to be smart and a great intriguer. Those born under this sign are curious, observant and have the ability to solve the most complex problems. Monkey people generally succeed in any sphere of activity they choose.




Roosters (1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, etc.)are active, ambitious and talented. They are hopeless dreamers but always ready to fight for his or her beliefs. People of this sign are decisive and hard working, but they achieve the best results when working alone. Roosters enjoy working as restaurateurs, journalists, travelers and servicemen.

Dog (1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, etc.)is a loyal and easygoing friend and associated with justice. People born this year are intolerant of injustice and always ready to help those less fortunate. They may be successful businessmen, political activists, teachers and – watch out! – spies.

The modest and fortunate Pigs (1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, etc.)likes fun but is not afraid of hard work. In China the Pig typifies courage. People born under this sign are diligent, always well informed and reliable, but sometimes naïve as they expect the same from others. Pigs are born peacemakers; they make good showmen and lawyers.

It is up to you whether or not to believe in your sign. As for me I treat the Chinese zodiac with respect and so benefit from it. For example, it says that two Roosters under one roof make life unbearable for each other. My mom is also a Rooster, but believe me, she is my best friend. Could this be because I take note of what my zodiac says and live under a different roof from her?



Book “Chinese Customs and Wisdoms” (translated into English by the author) was published in Beijing in 2007 by the Foreign Language Press

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