San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

Chinese Zodiac 101: The Year of the Dragon

Aside from the food and red envelopes, the Lunar New Year also marks a new beginning for another zodiac and shuffles expectations for 2024
Daisy Garcia
Illustration by Daisy Garcia

The Chinese zodiac is a part of Chinese astrology, much like Western horoscopes. It involves the time of your birth and the alignment of stars and elements, including metal, wood, water, fire and earth. In addition, a person’s birth year, “Ben Ming Nian,” and “Tai Sui,” the Guardian of the Year, can favor or hinder a zodiac sign. With that, the Chinese zodiac has evolved into a fairly complex system. 

However, the story of the origins of the zodiac animals is far less complicated, and the attributes of each animal remain relatively the same. 

The origin of the Chinese Zodiac animals

The myth starts with the Jade Emperor summoning all animals to compete in a race. The first 12 that cross the finish line will feature in the 12-year cycle in the order it finished the race.

At the race, the cat and the rat reached the river but they were both bad swimmers. So they asked the ox to carry them across. Being kind, the ox agreed. 

While crossing the river, however, the rat pushed the cat into the water because it wanted to win so badly. The cat never finished the race to make it on the zodiac and cats and rats became eternal enemies.

Then when the rat and the ox reached the finish line, the rat jumped in front of the ox to claim first place and the ox finished a close second.

The tiger came in third because it had to swim against the river’s current, which slowed it down. 

The rabbit then came in delayed fourth as it hopped between rocks but slipped, then it caught onto a log to float across the river to make it to the finish line, followed by the dragon. 

The Jade Emperor was surprised that the flying dragon came fifth and asked why. The dragon explained that it stopped when it saw some villagers needing help and decided to aid them, then it saw a rabbit floating on the log and gave it a puff of air to cross the river, hence the delay. 

Then the horse appeared, but before it crossed the finish line, the snake jumped out from hiding behind the horse’s hoof and startled the horse, which allowed the snake to finish sixth and the horse seventh. 

The goat, the monkey and the rooster decided to work together to cross the river, with the rooster finding the raft, then the monkey and goat pushing the raft forward, the three arriving together. The Jade Emperor awarded the goat eighth, the monkey ninth and the rooster 10th. 

Shortly after, the dog reached the finish line and explained the reason for its late arrival was that it needed a bath and the river was too good to pass up. So, it placed 11th.

Lastly, the pig made its way to the finish line, it got hungry halfway through the race and had to eat before finishing the race. It was the 12th and completed the zodiac cycle.

The Zodiacs

Rat: 1972, 1984, 1996

While you’re quick-witted and opportunistic, you may also be timid and lacking persistence. You should trust your instincts more and unleash your creative side. Trying something different and listening to others’ opinions might lead you to a surprising adventure — so it’s time to get out of your comfort zone.

Ox: 1973, 1985, 1997

Although reliable and honest, being stubborn is your nature. That stubbornness, however, can get you into trouble. Your zodiac sign is not aligning with the Year’s Guardian “Tai Sui” this year, so things can be challenging. But don’t worry, as long as you think twice and be cautious, you can grind through.

Tiger: 1974, 1986, 1998

You are confident and brave, which are attractive attributes, but you might also be considered possessive and clingy, which can be overwhelming for some people. It is not a bad idea to let go and take a step back to evolve those relationships.

Rabbit: 1975, 1987, 1999

Last year was your birth year, also known as “Ben Ming Nian,” which meant it was filled with obstacles, but you survived. So, this year should be better than last. You are kind and considerate and as always, will guide you through. Stay true and everything will work out.

Dragon: 1976, 1988, 2000

Be careful, dragons, this is your birth year, “Ben Ming Nian,” and challenges await. But don’t worry too much, you are intelligent and energetic, so you will figure things out and get through. Head outside more and surround yourself with positive vibes!

Snake: 1977, 1989, 2001

Next year will be your birth year, “Ben Ming Nian,” so it is time to prepare yourself for it as “Ben Ming Nian” tends to be challenging. But you are cautious and wise, so you will know which is the right move when problems approach. 

Horse: 1987, 1990, 2002

Ambitious and active, there is nothing you cannot accomplish unless your forgetfulness gets in the way. Write down notes and ideas, maintain a schedule and put reminders on your calendar, especially important deadlines will help get through the year. 

Goat: 1979, 1991, 2003

You are born with a gentle and empathetic soul, but sometimes you are an overthinker. You get worried about things that might or might not happen in the future and miss out on what’s going on in the present. So take a breather and relax because you are capable of tackling any obstacle. 

Monkey: 1980, 1992, 2004

Both charming and smart, you know how to be the center of attention and enjoy the stage. However, you are trying to do too many things at once. It would be wiser to focus and finish one task at a time.

Rooster: 1981,1993, 2005

You are logical and organized, you like things to be done in a certain way. Having boundaries is good but you should also be flexible because everyone has a different point of view. Remember, compromise is not always a bad thing.

Dog: 1982, 1994, 2006

You are not friends with the Year’s Guardian “Tai Sui” this year, so things might get difficult. But given your loyal and honest nature, your friends have your back. Let go of your stubbornness, open your eyes and listen. Don’t get blindsided by what is ahead but look further beyond.

Pig: 1983, 1995, 2007

You are known to be patient and generous most of the time. Although you might slack off occasionally, no real harm is done. However, those little mishaps might add up to cause bigger issues. So, it is always good to pay closer attention to the details than to let it slip.

About the Contributor
Christie Yeung, Photographer
Born in Hong Kong, Christie Yeung is a first-generation transfer student who majors in journalism at San Diego State University. Prior to arriving at SDSU, she served as the Gaming/Tech Editor, Features Editor and Managing Editor of SAC Media at Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, California where she was placed in on-the-spot competitions such as fourth in News photo, second in Portrait photo, first in Sports photo, first in Social Media and second in News writing, along with a meritorious mention in the Enterprise News Story/Series category from Journalism Association of Community Colleges. She was also awarded second in Best Breaking News Stories by the California College Media Association. During her free time, she likes to watch European soccer games, read, listen to Cantonese-pop music and play video games and Dungeons & Dragons with her online friends. She also has a sweet tooth and cannot turn away anything with Nutella in it.