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The Year of the Water Rabbit: Everything About Chinese Zodiacs and What This Means for You

Out with the old and in with the new: A fresh new start awaits with the end of yet another lunar calendar! On January 22, we’re celebrating the beginning of the Year of the Water Rabbit. Check out what this year’s zodiac sign means for you!


The Legend of the 12 Zodiacs

To understand your zodiac sign, it’s best to know the character of your animal and how its rank came to be. According to traditional Chinese mythology, the zodiac animals that we all know today were once decided by a race arranged by the Jade Emperor, who wanted to divide a set period of time into twelve years. His ruling declared that the results of the race would determine who each period would be named after. 

Most stories traditionally dictate that there were twelve animals in the zodiac race: the Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig. (For the curious, some tales also include the Cat as a 13th competitor!) All were considered to be equal contestants in a race to cross a river and reach the Jade Emperor. 

In the beginning, the twelve animals lined up by the riverbank; however, unease began to grow among them as they soon realized the extent of each of their abilities. Because the Rat cannot swim, it cleverly decided to seek help from the Ox, who agreed to let the former on its back. Due to the Ox’s strength and speed, both animals easily outpaced the rest of the group, with the Rat claiming victory by eagerly jumping off the Ox’s head towards the end. Duped by the Rat, the Ox had no choice but to take second place. 

Shortly after, the third place was skillfully seized by the ambitious Tiger. He was then followed by the Rabbit, who nimbly skipped across stepping stones before hopping onto a floating log that transported him to the Emperor. Next, the Dragon flew in to take the fifth place and became known for its benevolence — after all, the only reason why it did not finish the race first was because it decided to help its fellow animals in crossing the river. Not to be outdone, the Horse galloped to the end, only to be tricked by the Snake, who had secretly coiled itself around one of the former’s hooves. Taken aback by the Snake’s sudden appearance, the Horse settled for seventh place behind its unexpected slithery companion. 

A raft with the Goat, Monkey, and Rooster then floated to the scene, the three animals working together to be respectively ranked eighth, ninth, and tenth. Afterward, the last two competitors of the race finally reached the end, each being late because of their own distractions: Although the Dog was a skilled swimmer, it first wanted to take a bath! Meanwhile, the Pig completed the race last because it fell asleep while on its journey. 


Source: Chinese New Year


And so, each animal was ranked accordingly, establishing the 12-year zodiac cycle! Each year’s zodiac is as follows:

Rat: 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008, 2020

Ox: 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009, 2021

Tiger: 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010, 2022

Rabbit: 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011, 2023

Dragon: 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012

Snake: 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013

Horse: 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014

Goat: 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015

Monkey: 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016

Rooster: 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017

Dog: 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018

Pig: 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019


The Five Zodiac Elements

Year of the Water Rabbit?! What does that even mean? According to Chinese astrology, all the changes in the world are governed by the five elements, the cycle of which can be determined by the process of how they are created. 

  • Wood starts Fire, 
  • Fire creates earth, 
  • Earth holds Metal, 
  • Metal carries Water, 
  • and Water feeds Wood.


Source: Asian Geographic


In accordance with this cycle, each year is assigned an element depending on its last digit. Check out your zodiac element here:

Wood: Those born during the wood years take after a strong and ancient tree, possessing wisdom, patience, and stability beyond their years. Like roots that have far spread across the earth, people of the wood value growth and communication among their peers.

The Wood element is assigned to years ending in 4 or 5.

Recent Years: 1964, 1965, 1974, 1975, 1984, 1985, 1994, 1995, 2004, 2005, 2014, 2015


Fire: If you’re born of fire, you may experience a thrill for adventure! Fire people are often known for their creativity, brilliance, and passion for life — once the spark starts, there’s no putting it out!

The Fire element is assigned to years ending in 6 or 7.

Recent Years: 1976, 1977, 1986, 1987, 1996, 1997, 2006, 2007, 2016, 2017 


Earth: People of the earth are grounded and calm, often possessing a natural ability to maintain peace and justice. Reliable and responsible, these individuals are often the best at providing help to the ones they love. 

The Earth element is assigned to years ending in 8 or 9. 

Recent Years: 1978, 1979, 1988, 1989, 1998, 1999, 2008, 2009, 2018, 2019 


Metal: Like the element itself, those born in the metal years are best known for their unyielding rigidity — and that’s not a bad thing! Standing strong for their beliefs, these disciplined individuals are fiercely loyal not only to their principles but also to their friends and family. 

The Metal element is assigned to years ending in 0 or 1. 

Recent Years: 1970, 1971, 1980, 1981, 1990, 1991, 2000, 2001, 2010, 2011, 2020, 2021


Water: With their sensitivity to what those around them feel, those born of water are naturally empathetic and supportive to the people they love. They also innately possess an introspective nature, tending to be filled to the brim with new ideas and stories to tell. 

The Water element is assigned to years ending in 2 or 3. 

Recent Years: 1972, 1973, 1982, 1983, 1992, 1993, 2002, 2003, 2012, 2013, 2022, 2023


The Year of the Water Rabbit

So what does 2023 being the Year of the Water Rabbit mean for you?

Actual water rabbits that will be born this year are predicted to grow into gentle and amicable souls whose cleverness will allow them to easily adapt to different situations and environments. Aside from that, those born before 2023 can have their fortunes told according to their zodiac’s relationship with the characteristics of this year’s animal and element. What this means is that your Chinese zodiac can reveal much of how your life may unfold this year. 

That said, it’s also important to note that your fortune readings may differ with each unique interpretation of your zodiac animal’s natural elemental disposition, characteristics, relationship with other zodiacs, and favor from the deity Taisui, so be sure to take this all with a grain of salt! From progress in your career to changes in your relationship status, check out the predictions for this year’s zodiacs by a South China Morning Post-accredited fortune teller here:


Rat: It’s a lucky year for rats! In 2023, those born under the year of the rat should exert more effort in their romance and career — if done well, those still single may find themselves meeting compatible partners while those working hard in their jobs may soon expect a promotion or raise as rewards for their efforts. 

Ox: The oxen people will have to rely on themselves to work diligently since they do not have any lucky stars this year. They may also have to watch out for any health problems that might appear. However, this doesn’t mean that it’s a bad year for them! On the contrary, it’s a year of wealth, making it the perfect time for the oxen to plan out the best way to maximize their financial gains. 

Tiger: Tigers can say goodbye to the bad luck of the previous year! In 2023, there will be plenty of people to help you with your goals. Moreover, tigers will also have a lucky star for wealth, so it would be best to consider aggressive strategies for financial investments. 

Rabbit: Unfortunately, 2023 being the year of the rabbit doesn’t mean that everything will go along smoothly since this is also the year the rabbits offend the guardian deity Tai Sui. In order to boost their chances of good luck, rabbits should consider joining more auspicious events such as getting married, starting a new business, or buying property. 

That’s not to say that rabbits lack luck though! This year, rabbits have two lucky stars for wealth, which means they can take riskier financial decisions that will pay off with great success. 

Dragon: Like the rabbits, dragons will also offend Tai Sui this year. This means that they will also be more prone to offending the people around them, so dragons should be especially careful to keep a low profile as they go about their daily tasks. On the positive side, dragons will also experience a year of wealth. In this case, small amounts of money can be used to make huge gains. 

In regards to their work lives, dragons in male-dominated industries such as automotives, watchmaking, and men’s fashion will have great chances in advancing their careers. 

Snake: Snakes will experience a fairly balanced year. Although they will have higher chances of attracting more promotions at work and great wealth in 2023, their love lives will undergo some challenges. Snakes should take care to engage in more open communication to avoid disagreements and conflict. 

Horse: For horses, this year is one of love! Because of this, single horses should be more proactive in starting relationships. Horses who are already in committed relationships, however, should be careful in communicating with others, lest they cause messy love triangles. 

Horses in female-dominated industries such as beauty, cosmetics, and women’s fashion will also have higher chances of being promoted, so those working in these fields should take more initiative in finding good opportunities. 

Goat: This year is a prosperous one for goats, revealing auspicious signs present for their relationships, wealth, and careers. Any challenges met will be overcome with the help of benefactors. However, this doesn’t mean that goats should take it easy. If there’s anything that goats have to watch out for this year, it’s gossip and legal matters — be sure to seek professional advice when you think you need it! 

Monkey: Improving from the previous year, monkeys can recover from their bad luck in 2022 and can expect a calmer and more harmonious environment in their romantic, domestic, and work lives. That said, monkeys still have to be cautious since they may experience higher chances of financial loss. 

Rooster: This year is not a very fortuitous one for roosters. Although they can mitigate their ill luck by participating in more auspicious events, there will be no lucky stars to aid roosters in their endeavors in 2023. In fact, they should be especially cautious when it comes to making financial decisions given that it is more likely for them to experience huge monetary losses during this period. 

Dog: It’s a good time for dogs to be sociable! This year will not only be great for establishing new relationships but also for making some more money. Dogs can expect to advance well in wealth and career, so they should be sure to work diligently for a raise or a promotion. On the negative side, dogs should be more wary of traveling since they will be encountering greater chances of accidents abroad. 

Pig: Although 2023 will be a great year for pigs to network and build relationships, they should be sure to keep their heads down and stay out of other people’s business. Not only will pigs be more likely to attract gossip and accidents, but they will also suffer from a lack of lucky stars. Because of this, pigs must rely on their own efforts to achieve success. 


Want to know more about the Water Rabbit? Check out this article here!


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