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The 12 Chinese zodiac signs and what they mean

“Understanding your child’s zodiac year can broaden your possibilities for caretaking.”
TODAY Illustration / Getty Images
/ Source: TODAY

Depending on what year your kids were born, Chinese astrology suggests you’ll be able to predict their personality, their strengths and weaknesses, and even the kinds of friends they’ll make.

As we begin the Year of the Tiger, could knowing more about our children’s zodiac signs give us the inside scoop on parenting? Maybe — or maybe not! — but it’s still fun to explore.

What are the Chinese zodiac signs?

The Chinese zodiac features 12 animal signs that represent each year: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig. Each animal is said to give insight into what can happen during those years.

The zodiac is a cycle and is repeated every 12 years with the same animals. There are also five elements that each sign cycles through: earth, metal, water, wood and fire.

What is my Chinese zodiac sign?

Your birth year determines your Chinese zodiac sign. However, each year is connected to the Chinese lunar calendar, not the traditional calendar of Jan. 1 to Dec. 31. Since the lunar calendar changes slightly every year, if you’re born in January or February, you’ll need to check the dates of the lunar calendar to figure out where you fall on the zodiac.

In addition to giving a sneak peak of what the year might bring, the zodiac sign you’re born under is believed to influence your personality, your career choice and your compatibility with other zodiac signs.

Here’s a list of the zodiac animals and their corresponding years and personality traits, according to multiple sources:


  • Birth years: 1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008, 2020
  • Personality traits: Quick-witted, resourceful, versatile, kind, private, frugal, critical


  • Birth years: 1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009, 2021
  • Personality traits: Diligent, dependable, strong, determined, patient, materialistic, stubborn


  • Birth years: 1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010, 2022
  • Personality traits: Brave, confident, competitive, magnetic, idealistic, arrogant


  • Birth years: 1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011, 2023
  • Personality traits: Quiet, elegant, kind, responsible, sensitive, artistic, romantic


  • Birth years: 1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012, 2024
  • Personality traits: Confident, intelligent, enthusiastic, outspoken, energetic, impatient


  • Birth years: 1929, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013, 2025
  • Personality traits: Enigmatic, intelligent, wise, curious, anxious, calculating


  • Birth years: 1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014, 2026
  • Personality traits: Animated, active, energetic, amusing, enthusiastic, independent


  • Birth years: 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015, 2027
  • Personality traits: Calm, gentle, sympathetic, easygoing, creative, cheerful, disorganized


  • Birth years: 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016, 2028
  • Personality traits: Sharp, smart, curious, entertaining, sociable, intelligent, optimistic


  • Birth years: 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017, 2029
  • Personality traits: Observant, hardworking, courageous, adventurous, funny, loyal


  • Birth years: 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018, 2030
  • Personality traits: Helpful, honest, unselfish, prudent, trustworthy, timid


  • Birth years: 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019, 2031
  • Personality traits: Compassionate, generous, diligent, caring, smart, outgoing

What is the Chinese zodiac for 2022?

According to Ryan Marquardt, resident astrologer for The Soul Unity digital community, 2022 is the Year of the Water Tiger. If your baby is born after Feb. 1, expect your little tiger to be calm and patient and to love their family. However, they don’t always like to take advice, so expect lots of eye rolls during those teen years.

“When we have a tiger year, we're capable of being bolder, more courageous, and we're tasked with leading our lives through intelligence and primitive talents,” Marquardt said. “The water element adds a layer of flexibility, tenderness, memory and knowledge. 2022 will be a year where we're increasing our emotional intelligence and showing up with a newfound sense of quiet strength.”

Should we parent kids differently based on their zodiac?

Marquardt said the zodiac isn’t a parenting guide, but it does give moms and dads a new way to approach parenting.

“Understanding your child's zodiac year can broaden your possibilities for caretaking while strengthening the bond you have with your child,” he said. “Zodiacal years help give a greater sense of awareness about what strengths and weaknesses your child may naturally embody and face as they progress through life.”

What can we learn about our baby from the Chinese zodiac?

Even if you're learning about the Chinese zodiac for entertainment, Marquardt said it offers parents some interesting lessons.

“It's less about what the parent will learn about their baby, and more about expanding the ways parents can support their children as they grow and find their place in the world,” he said.