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Chinese astrology

From Academic Kids

Chinese astrology (占星術 pinyin: zhn xīng sh; 星學 pinyin: xīngxe ; 七政四餘 pinyin: qī zhng s y; and 果老星宗 pinyin: gǔo lǎo xīng zōng) is related to the Chinese calendar, particularly its 12-year cycle of animals (aka Chinese Zodiac), and the fortune-telling aspects according to movement of heavenly bodies across the Chinese constellations in the sky.

Contents

Background

The ancient Chinese astronomers called the five major planets by the names of the Five Elements. Venus is Metal (gold); Jupiter is Wood; Mercury is Water; Mars is Fire; Saturn is Earth. The position of the five planets, the sun, the moon and comets in the sky and the Chinese zodiac sign at the time a person was born determine the destiny of a person's life according to the Chinese astrology. A laborious system of computing one's fate and destiny based on one birthday and birth hours (known as 紫微斗數) is still used regularly in modern day Chinese astrology. The twenty-eight Chinese constellations (宿 xu) are quite different from the eighty-eight Western constellations. For example, the big dipper (Ursa Major) is known as 斗 dǒu; the belt of Orion is known as 參 shen, or the "Happiness, Fortune, Longevity" trio of demigods. The seven northern constellations are referred to as xanwǔ (玄武). Xuan Wu is also known as the spirit of the northern sky or the spirit of Water in Taoism belief.

In addition to astrological readings of the heavenly bodies, the stars in the sky form the basis of many fairy tales. For example, the Summer Triangle is the trio of the cowherd (Altair), the spinster maid fairy (Vega) and the "tai bai" fairy (Deneb). The two forbidden lovers were separated by the silvery river (the Milky Way). Each year on the seventh day of the seventh month in the Chinese calendar, the birds form a bridge across the Milky Way. The cowherd carries their two sons (the two stars on each side of Altair) across the bridge to reunite with their fairy mother. The tai bai fairy acts as the chaperone of these two immortal lovers. See Qi Xi for more versions of this story.

Chinese zodiac

The twelve zodiac animal signs (生肖 shengxiao) are, in order, the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep (or goat), monkey, rooster, dog, and pig. There are many legends to explain the beginning of the zodiac (see Origins of the Chinese Zodiac). One of the most popular reads, in summarized form, as follows:

The rat was given the task to invite the animals to report to the Jade Emperor to be selected for the zodiac signs. The cat was a good friend of the rat, but the rat forgot to invite him. So the cat vowed to be the rat's natural enemy for ages to come.

Another popular legend has it that a race was used to decide the animals to report to the Jade Emperor:

All the animals lined up on the bank of a river and were given the task of getting to the opposite shore. Their order in the calendar would be set by the order in which the animals managed to reach the other side. The cat wondered how he would get across if he was afraid of water. At the same time, the ox wondered how he would cross with his poor eyesight. The calculating rat suggested that he and the cat jump onto the ox's back and guide him across. The ox was steady and hard-working so that he did not notice a commotion on his back. In the meanwhile, the rat snuck up behind the unsuspecting cat and shoved him into the water. Just as the ox came ashore, the rat jumped off and finished the race first. The lazy pig came to the far shore in twelfth place. And so the rat got the first year named after him, the ox got the second year, and the pig ended up as the last year in the cycle. The cat finished too late (thirteenth) to win any place in the calendar, and vowed to be the enemy of the rat forevermore.

Some versions of the tale say that the cattle nominated a water buffalo to represent them because he was more proficient at water. The trade was acceptable because both animals are members of the family of bovids.

Another expands the race; the route ran through a forest, over ranges of plains and grasslands, and along a stream, before finally crossing a lake to the destination town.

Yet another variation tells of two different races. The first involved all the animals, in two divisions to avoid the fast animals dominating the top, and the top six in each division would "make the cut" for a second round, which would then determine the order of placement of the animals in the zodiac. This format is rather like the one that the National Football League uses to determine its playoff teams (six from each conference).

Interestingly the cat -- but not the rabbit -- does make the Vietnamese Zodiac (see below).

There is also a cycle of the Five Elements (Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal (Gold), Water) on top of the cycle of animals. A person's year sign can be a gold dragon, a wood rooster etc. In ancient match-making practice in China, couples were brought together according to their compatible signs. For example, it is believed that dog and dog don't get along, but dog and pig do; a water dog supports a wood pig but dominates a fire pig in their relationship because water benefits wood, but controls fire according to the Chinese five elements' interaction.

The elements are also associated with colours, the traditional correspondence being green to Wood, red to Fire, brown to Earth, white to Metal, and black to Water. Some websites denote the years by the colour and zodiac sign (as opposed to animal sign and element). See [1] (http://www.chinesefortunecalendar.com/2005.htm). (Notice the title "Green (Wooden) Chicken Year".)

The elements are combined with the binary Yin Yang cycle, which enlarges the element cyle to a cycle of ten. Even years are yang, odd years are yin. Since the zodiac animal cycle of 12 is divisible by two, every zodiac can only occur in either yin or yang: the dragon is always yang, the snake is always yin, etc. This combination creates a 60-year cycle, starting with Wood Rat and ending with Water Pig. The current cycle began in the year 1984.

Since the (traditional) Chinese zodiac follows the (lunisolar) Chinese calendar, the switch over date for the zodiac signs is the Chinese New Year, not January 1 as in the Gregorian calendar. Therefore, a person that was born in January or early February may have the sign of the previous year. For example, 1990 was the year of the horse, but anyone born from January 1 to January 25, 1990 was born in the year of the snake (the sign of the previous year), because the 1990 year of the horse began on January 26, 1990. There are many online sign calculators that share the same JavaScript (from this website [2] (http://javascript.internet.com/calculators/astrological-calculator.html)) that will give a person the wrong sign if he/she was born in January or early February.

There are some newer astrological texts which follow the Chinese Agricultural Calendar (the jie qi), and thus place the changeover of zodiac signs at the solar term li chun (beginning of Spring), at solar longitude 315 degrees. (See Chinese calendar)

The Chinese zodiac signs are used by cultures other than Chinese also. For one example, they often appear on Japanese New Year's cards. The United States Postal Service and those of several other countries issue a "Year of the ???" postage stamp each year to honor this Chinese heritage. However, those unfamiliar with the use of the Chinese lunar calendar usually just assume that the signs switch over on Jan 1 of each year. Those who are serious about the fortune telling aspect of the signs can consult a table, such as the one below.

Table of the Lunar Calendar and Zodiac

Chinese Zodiac for the past and present century (Note: first & second columns: 1900-1960. Third & fourth columns: 1960-2020.)
Begin End Begin End Element Sign
1900 Jan 31 1901 Feb 18 1960 Jan 28 1961 Feb 14 金 Metal 鼠 rat
1901 Feb 19 1902 Feb 07 1961 Feb 15 1962 Feb 04 金 Metal 牛 ox
1902 Feb 08 1903 Jan 28 1962 Feb 05 1963 Jan 24 水 Water 虎 tiger
1903 Jan 29 1904 Feb 15 1963 Jan 25 1964 Feb 12 水 Water 兔 rabbit
1904 Feb 16 1905 Feb 03 1964 Feb 13 1965 Feb 01 木 Wood 龍 dragon
1905 Feb 04 1906 Jan 24 1965 Feb 02 1966 Jan 20 木 Wood 蛇 snake
1906 Jan 25 1907 Feb 12 1966 Jan 21 1967 Feb 08 火 Fire 馬 horse
1907 Feb 13 1908 Feb 01 1967 Feb 09 1968 Jan 29 火 Fire 羊 goat
1908 Feb 02 1909 Jan 21 1968 Jan 30 1969 Feb 16 土 Earth 猴 monkey
1909 Jan 22 1901 Feb 09 1969 Feb 17 1970 Feb 05 土 Earth 雞 rooster
1910 Feb 10 1911 Jan 29 1970 Feb 06 1971 Jan 26 金 Metal 狗 dog
1911 Jan 30 1912 Feb 17 1971 Jan 27 1972 Feb 14 金 Metal 豬 pig
1912 Feb 18 1913 Feb 05 1972 Feb 15 1973 Feb 02 水 Water 鼠 rat
1913 Feb 06 1914 Jan 25 1973 Feb 03 1974 Jan 22 水 Water 牛 ox
1914 Jan 26 1915 Feb 13 1974 Jan 23 1975 Feb 10 木 Wood 虎 tiger
1915 Feb 14 1916 Feb 02 1975 Feb 11 1976 Jan 30 木 Wood 兔 rabbit
1916 Feb 03 1917 Jan 22 1976 Jan 31 1977 Feb 17 火 Fire 龍 dragon
1917 Jan 23 1918 Feb 10 1977 Feb 18 1978 Feb 06 火 Fire 蛇 snake
1918 Feb 11 1919 Jan 31 1978 Feb 07 1979 Jan 27 土 Earth 馬 horse
1919 Feb 01 1920 Feb 19 1979 Jan 28 1980 Feb 15 土 Earth 羊 goat
1920 Feb 20 1921 Feb 07 1980 Feb 16 1981 Feb 04 金 Metal 猴 monkey
1921 Feb 08 1922 Jan 27 1981 Feb 05 1982 Jan 24 金 Metal 雞 rooster
1922 Jan 28 1923 Feb 15 1982 Jan 25 1983 Feb 12 水 Water 狗 dog
1923 Feb 16 1924 Feb 04 1983 Feb 13 1984 Feb 01 水 Water 豬 pig
1924 Feb 05 1925 Jan 24 1984 Feb 02 1985 Feb 19 木 Wood 鼠 rat
1925 Jan 25 1926 Feb 12 1985 Feb 20 1986 Feb 08 木 Wood 牛 ox
1926 Feb 13 1927 Feb 01 1986 Feb 09 1987 Jan 28 火 Fire 虎 tiger
1927 Feb 02 1928 Jan 22 1987 Jan 29 1988 Feb 16 火 Fire 兔 rabbit
1928 Jan 23 1929 Feb 09 1988 Feb 17 1989 Feb 05 土 Earth 龍 dragon
1929 Feb 10 1930 Jan 29 1989 Feb 06 1990 Jan 26 土 Earth 蛇 snake
1930 Jan 30 1931 Feb 16 1990 Jan 27 1991 Feb 14 金 Metal 馬 horse
1931 Feb 17 1932 Feb 05 1991 Feb 15 1992 Feb 03 金 Metal 羊 goat
1932 Feb 06 1933 Jan 25 1992 Feb 04 1993 Jan 22 水 Water 猴 monkey
1933 Jan 26 1934 Feb 13 1993 Jan 23 1994 Feb 09 水 Water 雞 rooster
1934 Feb 14 1935 Feb 03 1994 Feb 10 1995 Jan 30 木 Wood 狗 dog
1935 Feb 04 1936 Jan 23 1995 Jan 31 1996 Feb 18 木 Wood 豬 pig
1936 Jan 24 1937 Feb 10 1996 Feb 19 1997 Feb 06 火 Fire 鼠 rat
1937 Feb 11 1938 Jan 30 1997 Feb 07 1998 Jan 27 火 Fire 牛 ox
1938 Jan 31 1939 Feb 18 1998 Jan 28 1999 Feb 15 土 Earth 虎 tiger
1939 Feb 19 1940 Feb 07 1999 Feb 16 2000 Feb 04 土 Earth 兔 rabbit
1940 Feb 08 1941 Jan 26 2000 Feb 05 2001 Jan 23 金 Metal 龍 dragon
1941 Jan 27 1942 Feb 14 2001 Jan 24 2002 Feb 11 金 Metal 蛇 snake
1942 Feb 15 1943 Feb 04 2002 Feb 12 2003 Jan 31 水 Water 馬 horse
1943 Feb 05 1944 Jan 24 2003 Feb 01 2004 Jan 21 水 Water 羊 goat
1944 Jan 25 1945 Feb 12 2004 Jan 22 2005 Feb 8 木 Wood 猴 monkey
1945 Feb 13 1946 Feb 01 2005 Feb 9 2006 Jan 28 木 Wood 雞 rooster
1946 Feb 02 1947 Jan 21 2006 Jan 29 2007 Feb 17 火 Fire 狗 dog
1947 Jan 22 1948 Feb 09 2007 Feb 18 2008 Feb 6 火 Fire 豬 pig
1948 Feb 10 1949 Jan 28 2008 Feb 7 2009 Jan 25 土 Earth 鼠 rat
1949 Jan 29 1950 Feb 16 2009 Jan 26 2010 Feb 23 土 Earth 牛 ox
1950 Feb 17 1951 Feb 05 2010 Feb 24 2011 Feb 2 金 Metal 虎 tiger
1951 Feb 06 1952 Jan 26 2011 Feb 3 2012 Jan 22 金 Metal 兔 rabbit
1952 Jan 27 1953 Feb 13 2012 Jan 23 2013 Feb 9 水 Water 龍 dragon
1953 Feb 14 1954 Feb 02 2013 Feb 10 2014 Jan 30 水 Water 蛇 snake
1954 Feb 03 1955 Jan 23 2014 Jan 31 2015 Feb 18 木 Wood 馬 horse
1955 Jan 24 1956 Feb 11 2015 Feb 19 2016 Feb 7 木 Wood 羊 goat
1956 Feb 12 1957 Jan 30 2016 Feb 8 2017 Jan 27 火 Fire 猴 monkey
1957 Jan 31 1958 Feb 17 2017 Jan 28 2018 Feb 15 火 Fire 雞 rooster
1958 Feb 18 1959 Feb 07 2018 Feb 16 2019 Feb 4 土 Earth 狗 dog
1959 Feb 08 1960 Jan 27 2019 Feb 5 2020 Jan 24 土 Earth 豬 pig

Chinese Zodiac in other countries in Asia

The Chinese zodiac is also used in some other Asian countries that have been under the cultural influence of China. However, some of the animals in the Zodiac may differ by country.

For example, the Vietnamese zodiac is identical to Chinese zodiac except the fourth animal is the cat not the rabbit, while the Japanese zodiac includes the wild boar instead of the pig. Also, the Japanese use Gregorian calendar, i.e., 1 January, as the beginning of the zodiac sign.

The Thai Zodiac does not differ from the Chinese zodiac.

Hours of the day

In addition to years, the Chinese zodiac is also traditionally used to label times of day, with each sign corresponding to a "large-hour" or shichen (時辰), which is a two-hour period

The following hours are in Beijing local time (UTC+8).

  • 23:00 - 01:00: rat
  • 01:00 - 03:00: ox
  • 03:00 - 05:00: tiger
  • 05:00 - 07:00: rabbit
  • 07:00 - 09:00: dragon
  • 09:00 - 11:00: snake
  • 11:00 - 13:00: horse
  • 13:00 - 15:00: sheep
  • 15:00 - 17:00: monkey
  • 17:00 - 19:00: rooster
  • 19:00 - 21:00: dog
  • 21:00 - 23:00: pig

External links

bn:চৈনিক জ্যোতিষশাস্ত্র de:Chinesisches Horoskop fr:Astrologie chinoise ja:干支 nl:Chinese astrologie pt:Astrologia chinesa zh:干支 minnan:seⁿ-siùⁿ

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