Everything You Need To Know About The Chinese Zodiac & Calendar In 2020

The Chinese zodiac is an important reflection of Chinese philosophy and culture, where the animal signs are often used in stories and folklore. The topic of the Chinese zodiac is most commonly discussed during the Chinese New Year period, where you'll find people of all ages curious about what the year ahead will bring. Some might regard the zodiac as mere superstition, but today, millions of Chinese people around the world still make important life decisions –choosing a spouse, selecting a wedding date, naming a child – according to the Chinese zodiac! Let's learn more about the Chinese zodiac and the Chinese New Year calendar.

Chinese New Year - The Chinese Zodiac & Calendar In 2020

In this article

  1. Origins of the Chinese zodiac
  2. What will the Rat year 2020 bring
  3. What are the 12 animal signs & their characteristics
  4. How to find romantic compatibility with the zodiac
  5. How to fend off bad luck
  6. Important dates in the CNY 2020 calendar

1. Origins of the Chinese zodiac

Myths and legends are a large part of Chinese culture, particularly in relation to the Chinese zodiac. The 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac comprise of: the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig. What are the origins of the Chinese zodiac? How did these animals take their place in the calendar?

There are many versions to this story. The most common story is the one where the Jade Emperor summoned all animals for a grand race that involved crossing a massive river.

The journey was an interesting one, with stories that reflected each animal's personal characteristics. The rat and cat being bad swimmers, rode on the back of an ox to cross the river. Before reaching the other side of the river, the rat pushed the cat off the ox and eventually won by a hair. As the cat eventually drowned and did not make it in the zodiac, it is believed that this is the reason why cats always hunt rats and also hate water. The dragon, on the other hand, proved to be honourable, helping villagers in trouble along the way.

The first 12 animals that finished the race were awarded a place in the calendar and are now integrated into everyday life, with different characteristics assigned to each animal.

Origins of the Chinese zodiac - Year of the Rat

2. What will the Rat year 2020 bring

Chinese New Year 2020, happening from 25th January to 8th February 2020, marks the beginning of the year of the metal rat. With the rat coming in first in the legendary animal race, 2020 also symbolises the start of the 12 animal cycle of the Chinese zodiac calendar, and is thus considered a year of new beginnings. The year of the rat will bring about confidence that anything is possible, and you will have the power to fulfil your wishes and carve new paths.

When carefully planned, the year of the rat is believed to be a strong year for pursuing goals, starting a business and investing in long-term projects. For the year of the metal rat, in particular, success is likely in the manufacturing of cars and machinery, IT and the tech industry. When it comes to love and romance, 2019 wasn’t a particularly smooth year. The good news is, 2020 is expected to be relatively harmonious with regards to matters of the heart.

3. What are the 12 animal signs & their characteristics

Zodiac Animal
Birth Year
Rat 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008, 2020
Ox 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009
Tiger 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010
1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011
Dragon 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012
Snake 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013
Horse 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014
Sheep 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015
Monkey 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016
Rooster 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017
Dog 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018
Pig 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019

*If you were born in January or February, get a more accurate description of your zodiac sign here.

Even today, the Chinese zodiac holds great significance to Chinese communities all around the world. Each animal is associated with certain characteristics, and it is believed that people born in a given year embody the personality of that year's animal. Let's explore the unique characteristics of each animal sign!

CNY 2020 Animal Signs, Characteristics - Rat, Ox & Tiger

The Rat is well known for his charm and innovative personality, which he is quick to use to his advantage. The Rat's sense of humour, shrewdness and keen entrepreneurial sense make it an ideal candidate for doing business. The Rat's bright and outgoing personality explains why he has such a multitude of friends. The Rat sincerely cherishes friends, family and employees. Although it takes a lot for a Rat to part with his money, receiving an expensive gift from a Rat means he holds you in high esteem.

The Ox symbolises the attainment of success through sheer hard work. A person born during this year will be dependable and methodical, a stickler for routine and conventions. Although generally fair and logical, it is difficult to change his views due to his stubborn nature. In times of stress, the Ox is the one to turn to because of his innate self-confidence and ability to restore order. What other signs will achieve through shrewdness and wit, the Ox will accomplish with tenacity and dedication.

A colourful and rebellious character, the Tiger commands respect and attention from those around him. The Tiger is a fortunate person to have around, and his vigour and love of life are contagious. As much as he is quick-tempered and volatile, he is equally sincere and affectionate. He has humanitarian instincts, often showing concern towards the less fortunate.

CNY 2020 Animal Signs, Characteristics - Rabbit, Dragon, Snake

The Rabbit embodies graciousness and kindness and those born in the year of the Rabbit are considered very fortunate. The rabbit is naturally reserved and likely to possess good judgement. His thoroughness makes him a good scholar and he will shine in areas such as law, diplomacy and research.

The Dragon represents vitality and strength. Even when unreasonable or eccentric, he is never without a band of admirers. Not one to take defeat lightly, The Dragon is difficult to oppose. Despite his strong ego, the Dragon is loyal to his loved ones and can put aside resentments and aid others in times of crisis.

The Snake is the most mysterious of the Chinese zodiac and is known for his wisdom and grace. The Snake naturally gravitates to the finer things in life such as good food and wine, music and the theatre. The most powerful men and women tend to be born under this sign. The Snake trusts his own judgement more than the opinions of others and is resolute in his decisions.

CNY 2020 Animal Signs, Characteristics - Horse, Sheep, Monkey

Those born in the year of the Horse are cheerful, quick-witted and noted for his love of sports and outdoor activities. The Horse is agile both mentally and physically. Quick to respond to any changes, he can perform better than most in difficult situations. Although the Horse can be impulsive and lacks discretion, he has a forgiving heart and a self-assured outlook on life.

The Sheep is righteous, mild-mannered and considered the Good Samaritan of the Chinese zodiac. The Sheep is known for his forgiving and compassionate ways, although this can also translate to being easily overcome by emotions. The Sheep understands how to get his way without force or violence and will always have powerful allies.

Those born in the year of the Monkey are strong, competitive and independent. Out of all the animals in the zodiac, The Monkey may be the most clever and flexible, capable of solving intricate problems with ease. A remarkably fast learner, the Monkey can master anything and no challenge is too great for him. Even with his sociable character, one must not underestimate the guile and charm of the Monkey.

CNY 2020 Animal Signs, Characteristics - Rooster, Dog, Pig

The Rooster is detailed, decisive, and direct. Ask a Rooster for his frank opinion and you might never recover from his comments. As a lover of argument and debate, he can sometimes lack tact. Like the Tiger, the Rooster shines when in the centre of attention. Because of his meticulous nature, the Rooster is exceptional at financial matters and is able to whip any accounts book into shape.

The Dog may be the most well-liked sign in the Chinese zodiac. A person born in the year of the Dog is honest, intelligent and has a deep sense of loyalty and fairness. Generally unpretentious, he will get along with others and can be counted on to do his part. The Dog has the ability to naturally see through people's motives and is known to be an objective listener.

The Pig
Those born in the year of the Pig are some of the most natural people you could ever meet. Honest, simple and often the all-round nice guy, the Pig is popular because he neither bears grudges nor adds fuel to fire in a confrontation. His incredible patience, credibility and sincerity are his best assets.

4. How to find romantic compatibility with the Chinese zodiac

Looking for love? Consult the table below to understand which signs are compatible with yours. Bonus: It applies to all relationships, not just romantic ones!

Zodiac Animal Compatible Mismatch
Rat Ox, Dragon, Monkey Horse, Rooster
Ox Rat, Snake, Rooster Tiger, Dragon, Horse, Sheep
Tiger Dragon, Horse, Pig Ox, Tiger, Snake, Monkey
Rabbit Sheep, Monkey, Dog, Pig Snake, Rooster
Dragon Rooster, Rat, Monkey Ox, Sheep, Dog
Snake Dragon, Rooster Tiger, Rabbit, Snake, Sheep, Pig
Horse Tiger, Sheep, Rabbit Rat, Ox, Rooster, Horse
Sheep Horse, Rabbit, Pig Ox, Tiger, Dog
Ox, Rabbit Tiger, Pig
Rooster Ox, Snake Rat, Rabbit, Horse, Rooster, Dog
Dragon, Sheep, Rooster
Tiger, Rabbit, Sheep Snake, Monkey

5. How to fend off bad luck

Every year, there will be a group of animal signs that "offend" Tai Sui (太岁), the God of Age, resulting in a bad prediction for the year. In particular, Tai Sui is believed to bring misfortune to those in zodiac years that match their year of birth. For 2020, the animal signs that "offend" Tai Sui include:

  1. Rat
  2. Horse
  3. Rabbit
  4. Sheep
  5. Rooster

If you read a bad prediction this Chinese New Year, fret not! Here are a few things you can do to improve your luck if you clash with Tai Sui in 2020.

Wear red and jade accessories
Both are believed to bring good luck.

Change your sitting position
In 2020, Tai Sui will be north and direction damaging Tai Sui will be south. Confused? In a nutshell, avoid positioning your bed or office table facing both directions.

Pray for blessings
Some may choose to go to a temple to pray to Tai Sui before the 8th day of the first lunar month to remove ill-fortune and gain more blessings.

Do good
Helping others in need, participating in charity work and generally having a positive outlook can help you pull through difficult times.

In addition, be sure to check out our list on how to make your CNY 2020 extra huat.

6. Important dates in the CNY 2020 calendar

Important dates in the CNY 2020 calendar


Dates (2020)


New Year's Eve

24th Jan

  • CNY Reunion dinner happens on this day, and is considered the most important dinner of the year.
  • It is believed that the longer children stay up at night, the longer their parents will live.
Day 1: Spring Festival

25th Jan

  • First day of CNY.
  • It is believed that sweeping is taboo on this day as it symbolises the sweeping away of good luck.
Day 7: Day of the Human

31st Jan

  • According to the Nüwa (女媧) mythology, humans were created on the 7th day.
  • Seven Gem Porridge is eaten.
  • Good weather on this day is believed to be a sign for a smooth year ahead.
Day 9: The Jade Emperor’s Birthday

2nd Feb

  • Marks the birthday of the Jade Emperor, known as the God of Heaven.
  • Offerings are made to the Jade Emperor on this day.
Day 15: Lantern Festival

8th Feb

  • Marks the first full moon of the year.
  • Round dumplings resembling the shape of the moon and stuffed with sweet fillings are traditionally eaten.
  • The day involves the gathering of family and the display of lanterns.

Chinese New Year is rich in history, mythology and symbolic meaning, and the Chinese zodiac is no different. The folklore and lessons surrounding the Chinese zodiac are passed on from generation to generation, and still hold meaning to Chinese communities all over the world today. Even if you are a sceptic, the Chinese zodiac and calendar are interesting ways to understand Chinese philosophy and culture and serve as a fun conversation topic during the Chinese New Year period!