Last Updated: 23rd January, 2019

Chinese New Year Calendar

12 Animals of the Chinese Zodiac


Zodiac Animal Character Years
Rat 鼠 (shǔ) 1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008
Ox 牛 (niú) 1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009
Tiger 虎 (hǔ) 1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010
Rabbit 兔 (tù) 1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011
Dragon 龙 (lóng) 1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012
Snake 蛇 (shé) 1929, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013
Horse 马 (mǎ) 1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014
Goat 羊 (yang) 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015
Monkey 猴 (hóu) 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016
Rooster 鸡 (jī) 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017
Dog 狗 (gǒu) 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018
Pig 猪 (zhū) 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019



The Chinese lunar calendar is said to be the longest chronological record in history, dating from 2600 BC. Emperor Huang Ti is believed to have introduced the first cycle of the zodiac. The most important aspect of the calendar, the celebration of the New Year festival, is based on the cyclical dating that is based on the track record of the new moon. Hence, as the track of the moon varies from year to year, the beginning of the year falls anywhere between late January and the middle of February of the Gregorian calendar. The Chinese New Year for the Gregorian year of 2018 falls on Friday, February 16. A complete cycle, according to the Chinese calendar, takes 60 years and is made up of five cycles of 12 years each.

  • Emperor Wu of the Han dynasty (206 BC-AD 220) made further modifications to the calendar. According to this, the day of the first new moon, when the sun enters the eleventh sign of the zodiac, or the second new moon after the winter solstice should be regarded as the beginning of the Chinese New Year. For many years, the Chinese followed this calendar until the Republic of China, founded in 1912, officially adopted the Gregorian calendar as the “public calendar” to keep track with the rest of the world.
  • However, the traditional and ritualistic observances are still celebrated according to the lunar calendar. A unique feature of the Chinese Lunar calendar is that to account for the extra half day in each lunar year, the calendar assigns twenty-nine days to half the months and thirty to the others.
  • Moreover, to settle the differences, one extra month is added every two or three years. Following this, the Chinese get a leap year of not an extra day but an extra month in the calendar.
  • In the Chinese lunar calendar, the sun's positions in the signs of the zodiac are represented by animals. And every year of the Chinese calendar is dedicated to one of these animals.
  • Legend has it that Lord Buddha asked all the animals to meet him before his nirvana. However, among all the animal species, only twelve of them came to bid him farewell. Seeing this, lord Buddha awarded the animals a month each in the order of their visit.
  • According to Chinese belief, the animal associated with one's birth hides within him/her and some of the characteristics of the animal are revealed in his/her character.