The Chinese Zodiac features 12 animals, one for each year of the 12-year cycle. These animals include a rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and pig.
Each animal is said to have particular characteristics. Individuals born in the year of the particular animal are thought to have these same characteristics. Those born in the year of the rat are thought to be clever, sharp and funny. These individuals are thought to seek knowledge and enjoy a good challenge. The year of the ox brings people who are goal-oriented and hard-working. The tiger year features people who are authoritative and strong leaders.
According to the Chinese zodiac, those who are born in the year of the rat are intelligent, adaptable, artistic and social. People born in the year of the ox are loyal, strong, reasonable and determined. People born in the year of the tiger are enthusiastic, courageous and ambitious. Those who are born in the year of the rabbit are trustworthy and sincere.
Because of the dragon's importance to Chinese society, characteristics associated with those born in the dragon's year include luckiness and spirituality. People born in the year of the snake are philosophical and decisive. People born in the year of the horse are loyal, courageous and adventurous. Those who are born in the year of the sheep are elegant, sensitive and calm.
People born in the year of the monkey are considered quick-thinking, lucky, versatile and smart. Those who are born in the year of the rooster are honest, energetic and confident. People born in the year of the dog are loyal, social, courageous and diligent. Those who are born in the year of the boar are optimistic, sincere and social.
Each animal is thought to be more or less compatible with some of the other animals in the Zodiac. For example, those born in the year of the tiger are thought to be compatible with horse and dog years. This compatibility offers a suggestion about who makes good friends and even life partners.
Legend has it that these animals were selected as the Zodiac symbols when Buddha invited them all to a race. The rat was reportedly the first one to finish the race, so the rat became the first animal in the 12-year cycle.