Can One of These 12 Animals Tell Your Fortune? (Part I)

HSK 3 quiz

People have been interested in their fortune and explanations of their personalities since the beginning of civilization. Even if you don’t believe in it, it’s fun when your friend reads your weekly horoscope. In China, there are 12 zodiac animals and they are:
1. 鼠 (Shǔ): Mouse

2. 牛 (Niú): Ox

3. 虎 (Hǔ): Tiger

4. 兔 (Tù): Rabbit

5. 龙 (Lóng): Dragon

6. 蛇 (Shé): Snake

7. 马 (Mǎ): Horse

8. 羊 (Yáng): Goat

9. 猴 (Hóu): Monkey

10. 鸡 (Jī): Rooster

11. 狗 (Gǒu): Dog

12. 猪 (Zhū): Pig

The twelve animals that represent the birth year of the twelve earthly branches in China, are called “生肖 (shēngxiào) zodiac” and it differs from the constellation zodiac that many westerners use to learn about their horoscope.

It further reflects the cultural differences between China and Western countries. Understanding your animal’s attributes and shortcomings is an alternative way to understand yourself and other “生肖 (shēngxiào) zodiac” animals. 2018 is the year of the dog.
Learn about the first 6 animals through a summary of their attributes, shortcomings, and best romantic matches.

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“鼠 (Shǔ) Mouse” is sometimes called rat but is nonetheless considered spirited, witty, alert, delicate, and flexible on a good day but also timid, unstable, stubborn, picky, and quarrelsome. Mice zodiacs will never have a lack of romance and passion with the ox, dragons, or monkey zodiacs.

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“牛 (Niú) Ox” sometimes called cow, is diligent and honest. Their shortcomings include being stubborn, narrow-minded, and hard to get close to. They are quite compatible with rats, roosters, and snakes.

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“虎 (Hǔ) Tiger” is considered to be brave yet cruel and forceful. Since tigers are confident and brave they also like showing off. Their best matches are the dragon, horse, and pig but be careful because these lovers can also feel like rivals.
(The Tiger Is the Most Ferocious Animal, So Why Does It Being Scared of Foxes?)

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“兔 (Tù) Rabbit” is known for tenderness, grace, and sensitivity and they have a special ability to convert an enemy into a friend. They also tend to hesitate which causes them to lose good chances in life. Rabbits are the most romantic with sheep, monkey, dog, and pig.

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“龙 (Lóng) Dragon”: People with Chinese zodiac dragon sign are usually motivating, generous, sensitive, ambitious, and romantic but that doesn’t mean their eccentric, fiery, and intolerant traits don’t get in the way. They build the best families with rat, rooster, and monkey.

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“蛇 (Shé) Snake” is a symbol of wisdom and wit and are sensitive and humorous while most of them are gifted in literature and art. Suspicion is their weakness, which makes them hesitant and a bit paranoid. Their relationship with roosters and dragons can develop through the lasting attraction.
(Do You Know What Does “画蛇添足 (Huàshétiānzú)” Mean in China?)
There is a humorous story about how the Chinese zodiac animals were selected out of all the animals in existence. It was a long time ago that the election of the Zodiac was held in the forest, and each small animal received an invitation to participate in the event. The invitation said: The twelve small animals that arrive at the stream tomorrow morning will be selected for the Zodiac.
The “猫 (māo) cat” and the ”老鼠 (lǎoshǔ) mouse” lived together and were good friends at that time. Cat asked the mouse to wake it up tomorrow morning and the mouse quickly agreed. However, the next day the mouse got up early but it didn’t wake the cat up. Was it intentional?
(Do You Like Cats? I Think You Might Be Interested in This Popular Chinese Song.)
The mouse knew that the ox was strong so mouse decided to deceive the ox by riding on his back. The mouse sang and thought to himself happily that ox is really a fool.
As soon as the “牛 (niú) ox” carried the mouse to the stream the mouse jumped to the tip of the ox and thus became the first animal while ox was second. The next ten small animals to arrive were also selected for the Zodiac.
By the time the cat woke up and hurried to the stream the event was over. Since then, the cat hates the mouse very much and therefore it is necessary to try to catch the mouse.

Let’s look at how people talk about “生肖 (shēngxiào)” in daily Chinese conversation.
Dialogue 1

Lì lì: Nǐ shǔ shénme shēngxiào?
丽丽: 你属什么生肖?
Lili: What is your zodiac?

Xiǎo hóng: Wǒ shǔ mǎ.
小 红: 我属马。
Xiaohong: My zodiac is the horse.

Dialogue 2

Xiǎomíng: Jīnnián shì shénme shēngxiào nián?
小明: 今年是什么生肖年?
Xiaoming: What is the zodiac of this year?

Xiǎo fāng: Jīnnián shì gǒu nián.
小芳: 今年是狗年。
Xiaofang: The zodiac of this year is the dog.

HSK 3 quiz

1. Which of the following animals does not belong to “十二生肖” (shí’èrshēngxiào)?

A. 猫 (Māo)

B. 虎 (Hǔ)

C. 鼠 (Shǔ)

— Written by Julia Liu —

Julia Liu teaches Chinese with eChineseLearning. She has been successfully teaching for 5 years and loves reading and practices her passion for drawing in her free time.

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