Everything that has to do with Chinese astrology, zodiac, and horoscopes is calendar based. It is based on the phases of the moon and the seasons of the solar year, combining the lunar and solar calendar. Today, the common Gregorian calendar is used in China, as it is with most of the world. The true Chinese calendar, however, is still used for marking the dates of many traditional holidays, such as Chinese New Year, the Duan Wu festival, and the Mid-Autumn festival. It is also used in Chinese astrology to determine the best times to start on a new venture, open a business, get married, and any other activity that will make a difference and lasting future impression in someone's life.
With the calendar come the twelve signs of the Chinese zodiac. These signs are based on the calendar and there is one per year. These signs have taken on the form of animals, and 2008 is the year of the Rat. The Rat is the first zodiac sign in the rotation, and this year starts a brand new cycle of twelve. Technically, the year of the Rat doesn't start until Chinese New Year. Because the solar and lunar calendars do not sync - the solar being fixed at 365 days, the lunar being less than that number - there is a leap month in the lunar calendar. Hence, February 29th showing up every four years. This is why Chinese New Year has no exact date, and falls between mid-January and late February. Children born during the month of January, especially mid-January, would need to determine what date Chinese New Year is so they know the proper animal sign they were born under.
The Chinese calendar also works on a sixty year cycle which consists of two separate cycles interacting with each other. This allows all of the different pieces of the astrological birth chart to fit together. The first cycle contains the ten heavenly stems which are the fives elements in their Yin and Yang form. The second cycle is that of the twelve animal signs. Twelve multiplied by five equals sixty. Every sixty year cycle started with the Wood Rat and ends with Water Pig. Each of these is then assigned a Yin or Yang. To find out if you were born in a Yin year or a Yang year, simply determine if your birth year is an even or odd number. Even numbers are Yang, odd numbers are Yin.
The elements are also part of the cycle and they correspond with Yin and Yang. Each element will have two years, one Yin and one Yang, in addition to the zodiac sign you were born under. Using the current year of 2008 as an example and basing this after the Chinese New Year, you would be a Rat, born under Yang Earth. In 2009, after the onset of the New Year, you would be an Ox born under Yin Earth. 2010 would be Yang Metal, 2011 Yin Metal, and so forth. To determine the rest of the sequence, remember that the elements go in order as follows: Metal, Water, Wood, Fire, and Earth.
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