Unlike Western astrology, which is divided up into 12 months and predominately based on celestial movements, the Chinese Zodiac is divided into 12 years.
It holds that the animal ruling a specific birth year dictates one’s destiny and greatly impacts one’s personality, career, health, and more.
As the saying goes, “This animal hides in your heart.” (Source)
The Chinese Zodiac is ancient, and while the exact origin of the system is unknown, many legends exist to explain it.
According to Yanzi Chen, in a paper he published for the Rochester Institute of Technology, one of the most popular legends attributes it to Buddha:
One of the most popular stories says that the Buddha decided to give every year a name so it would be easy to tell one year from another. And he sent three apsaras (flying women with magical powers) to invite all animals of China to visit him. Only twelve animals actually showed up. As a reward, the Buddha promised to name a year for each one in order of their arrival. These were the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig.
In the video below, ShaoLan shares several tips for understanding the ancient Chinese zodiac tradition and explains how it’s believed to influence your personality and destiny.