History of Chinese Astrology

The roots of Chinese astrology go back thousands of years and the exact origin is lost in antiquity. In the course of millennia a number of different systems and traditions have sprung up.

Mainly there are two types, those that rely on birth data alone, and those that use birth data but rely primarily on positioning of stars and planets. Most use the lunar calendar which bases its calculations on the cycles of the moon. That is why Chinese New Year falls on a different date every year. Some Chinese systems use the solar year as Western astrology does. Both, however, make use of Chinese five element theory.

Your birth year does not just indicate your age! According to the Chinese system of Astrology, it indicates a certain phase or aspect of a sixty-year cycle of time. Three systems are used for counting and classifying the years: The ten Heavenly Stems, the twelve Earthly Branches and the twelve Animals.

Most people know that there are twelve zodiac signs in the Chinese astrology, namely rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep (ram or goat), monkey, rooster, dog, and pig. However, the history of the Chinese zodiac signs, i.e. how they came into existence, is still unknown to the majority. Actually, there is an interesting legend that explains the full story behind the history and origin of the Chinese Zodiac.

According to one Chinese legend the 12 animals argued as to who would be the first animal in the 12-year cycle. The gods decided to hold a contest in which the animals must cross a river. The first animal to cross the river would be the first on the chart followed by the other animals according to their finish. The rat was the smallest of the animals and was expected by the other animals to finish last. Quickly the 12 animals jumped into the river but unknown to the ox, the rat had jumped on his back. As the ox was about to jump on the riverbank to claim first place, the rat jumped off his back and won the race. The pig that was very lazy ended up last. As expected, their peers often tease most children who were born in the year of the pig.

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