There are a total of twelve signs in the Chinese zodiac, or "shengxiao," which means "born resembling." The signs are organized in a recurring cycle, with each animal chosen for its symbolic characteristics. Traditionally, those born in a certain year are believed to possess the qualities of that animal.
The animals, in order, are the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and pig. For example, those born in 1990 were born in the year of the horse, while those born in 1992 were born in the year of the monkey.
This allows for both positive and negative characteristics to show through in a person's individual personality. In the context of romantic relationships, possessing certain animal attributes can be either helpful or harmful, so those entering into a relationship can check their compatibility with their partner by figuring out which Chinese zodiac animal represents them.
It is important to note that the Chinese calendar year is not the same as the Western calendar year. The Chinese new year occurs between January 21 and February 20. Those born in January and February of any given lunar year may need to consult the Chinese zodiac in order to establish which animal is said to represent them.