Chinese Zodiac, one of the Representatives of Chinese Culture

chinese culture

When it comes to Chinese Culture, the thing that first popped up in your mind is delicious Chinese food like Mongolian beef noodles, dumplings, and spring rolls; or invincible KONG FU showed by Jackie Chan in the action movies? 

But what I’d like to cover in this article is Chinese Zodiac, which shows an indispensable status in Chinese Culture and daily life for more than 3000 years. Chinese Zodiac culture is full of magical legends and exciting myths that are attractive and helpful for you to understand most Chinese lifestyles better.

Now, Let’s get to the point!

What is the Chinese Zodiac?

Chinese Zodiac is also known as “Sheng Xiao” or “Shuxiang,” abbreviated to the genus, our unique and essential national custom. It refers to a certain kind of animal that a person belongs to after birth, called Ben Ming Nian (Zodiac Birth Year).

According to the interpretation of Chinese characters, “Sheng” refers to “birth,” and “Xiao” means similar and resemble.

 The 12 Zodiac animals are “Rats, Ox, Tigers, Rabbits, Dragons, Snakes, Horses, Goats, Monkeys, Roosters, Dogs and Pigs” that go around round for every 12 years as a cycle.

 Besides, all ages in China know about it. Because the Zodiac sign, as an animal image that accompanies everyone’s life, is the basis for a person’s birth symbol to remember the age, and good luck for the whole experience is endowed with many good wishes and spiritual prayers.
As the Chinese traditional auspicious Culture of the 12 Chinese Zodiac, the sign year animal is mascots and given gifts from heaven for people who belong to their Birth Sign Year.


“This is the first gift we born with. Zodiac culture connects with the large Chinese nation. It belongs to the lifelong mark and brand that every Chinese child can’t choose and replace. 

It is to maintain the emotion and Culture of our nation Tie, with the twelve Zodiac animals means that no matter where you are on the earth, we all belong to the same Chinese nation.”

Why could
Chinese Zodiac represent Chinese Culture?

The history of the Chinese Zodiac can be traced back to the spring and Autumn Period and the Warring States period before Qin Dynasty(B.C.221-207)

According to the earliest document, “The BOOK OF SONGS,” which says, “a great afternoon and a proper time are perfect matches for horse jumping.”

 This is an example that reveals the relationship between the earth branches and the twelve kinds of animals around the Spring and Autumn Period. A record of Wang Chong” LUN HENG WU SHI” further confirmed this point and became the earliest and most complete record of Chinese Zodiac culture.

In the Dynasties of Wei(A.D. 386-584), Jin (A.D. 266-420), Southern(A.D.  420-589), and Northern(A.D. 386-581), the Chinese Zodiac was widely used by Chinese people. 

Up to now, the Chinese Zodiac culture has been accompanying Chinese for nearly 3000 years. It seems that it has become a mark and brand that can not be replaced in a nation’s life.        It is not only the crystallization of the wisdom of the Chinese society but also the precious cultural resources of the country source and is the unique symbol of Chinese culture standing in the forest of world culture.

How does Chinese Zodiac appear?


The formation of the Chinese Zodiac is inseparable from the hunting lifestyle of primitive people and the belief in totem worship. Their respective meanings are also based on people’s long-term understanding and views on these things. For example, the strong reproductive ability of rats means reproductive worship.

“The influence of Ox farming on agricultural civilization is extraordinary, and it has become a symbol of diligence, honesty, and dedication. 

Dragon has become the symbol of emperors since ancient times, and China has always had the habit of worshipping dragon totem, which naturally symbolizes being outstanding and extraordinary.”

There are numerous legends and stories about the national Culture with a history of thousands of years. 

Most of them are myths and legends. Of course, in addition to the folklore, there are other explanations about the origin of the twelve Zodiac animals. 

For example, from the perspective of the twelve hours of the ancient day and night, we can explain the relationship between the Zodiac and the local branches, or make explanations according to other viewpoints. Whether these statements are true or not. 

However, these explanations enrich the content of Chinese Zodiac culture and promote the inheritance and development of Chinese Zodiac culture.

Historical Meaning

Chinese Zodiac Info

As a profound folk cultural symbol, the Chinese Zodiac has left a large number of Poems, Spring Festival couplets, Chinese paintings, Calligraphy, Folk arts and Crafts works depicting the images and symbolic significance of the Zodiac. In folk activities, such as Farewell to the old year, welcome the new year, Celebrate the bumper harvest and Protect peace. The artistic image of the Zodiac represents a unique cultural significance.

The Zodiac contains the wisdom and vision of the Chinese nation, and it is the people’s yearning for a happy life. 

The Chinese Zodiac is a decisive factor and an expression of auspiciousness and the blessing of an emotion. 

Therefore, the Chinese Zodiac culture is an essential part of Chinese traditional folk culture. The Zodiac, also known as the twelve Zodiac signs, is a chronological method named after twelve kinds of animals.

Chinese Zodiac: Essence of Chinese Culture

When people talk about age, they often ask,” What are your Zodiac sign ?” 

Chinese Zodiac is the spirits of these 12 kinds of animals that form the atmosphere of emotional transmission between people and make Chinese Zodiac closely linked with people’s minds, destiny, and emotion, thus continuing the virtue of this traditional Culture. 

In short, the Chinese Zodiac is not only the representative of Chinese folk culture but also the essence of traditional Chinese culture.

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