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While the emperor ruled the country with the help of astronomers/astrologers, there was no official way for the Chinese people to ask the stars for advice. Most probably Buddhist monks, who came from India and studied Chinese astrology, came up with an idea to make their living creating horoscopes without violating the imperial rules. They developed the method of the 12 animal signs. Every animal was thoughtfully picked by its characteristics to match the interpretations of the 5 elements. The method of the animal signs was easy to understand and became a very popular way throughout Asia in a short time.

While western astrology determines the zodiac signs by looking at the month, the Chinese calculate their zodiac by years. Now we use a 12 years cycle with a dedicated animal sign for each year.

The following table shows the years and the hours for the 12 Chinese animal signs. Bare in mind that the Chinese solar year starts around the February 4. If your birthday is in January or at the beginning of February your Chinese animal sign belongs to the year before.
Example: 27.1. 1967 belongs still to the year of the horse. 

 
 
 

Rat

23:00-01:00 Uhr

1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008

Ox

01:00-03:00 Uhr

1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009

Tiger

03:00-05:00 Uhr

1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010

Rabbit

05:00-07:00 Uhr

1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011

Dragon

07:00-09:00 Uhr

1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012

Snake

09:00-11:00 Uhr

1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013

Horse

11:00-13:00 Uhr

1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014

Sheep

13:00-15:00 Uhr

1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015

Monkey

15:00-17:00 Uhr

1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016

Rooster

17:00-19:00 Uhr

1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017

Dog

19:00-21:00 Uhr

1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018

Pig

21:00-23:00 Uhr

1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019