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The calendar and zodiac are a precise combination of a number of factors: astronomy, agriculture, the seasons and the five elements of Chinese philosophy (metal, wood, water, fire and earth). They also take into account all of the earthly rhythms occurring at the time of a person's birth.
The 12 animal signs of the zodiac are very much reflective of the animals' perceived personalities, and people are said to possess similar traits as the sign under which they're born. Chinese astrologers believe these personalities weigh heavily on how our lives will play out, including which signs we are compatible with and what professions we are best suited for.
How to find your Chinese zodiac sign
The Chinese lunar calendar is slightly different from the Gregorian calendar used day-to-day, so determining your zodiac sign isn't as straightforward as identifying your birth year. If you were born between March and December, your sign will coincide with the year you were born; however, those born in January or February may vary. The Chinese New Year begins toward the end of January or in early- to mid-February. If you're born before the Chinese New Year commences, your sign is that of the previous year.
In 2014, for example, the Chinese New Year lands on January 31. Births on that day through to Feb. 17, 2015, fall in the Year of the Horse, while those born prior to January 31 were born under 2013's Year of the Snake. When the 2015 Chinese New Year starts on February 18, the Year of the Goat begins, and babies born on or after that date will fall under that sign.
The easiest way to accurately determine your Chinese astrological sign is to use an online calculator or consult a table, such as the one available on timeanddate.com.
Learn more about your Chinese zodiac sign and the unique personality traits associated with your animal.