Shengxiao (or Shuxiang) ,birth sign ,refers to the twelve animals traditionally used in China to symbolize years. Each of these animal, mouse , ox ,tiger ,rabbit, dragon , snake ,horse , sheep , monkey ,rooster, dog ,and pig . Represent one year ,in the given order to constitute a 12-year cycle . Thus we have the year of the Mouse(which is 2008 ) ,the Year of the Ox (2009) , and the Year of the Tiger (2010) and son on . This year is Tiger year in China ,because of 2010 this year.
He animal that symbolizes the year in which a person is born is called his or her shengxiao (birth sign) . It is not always easy to remember a person’s age, but it is easy ,generally speaking, to remember his shengxiao ,which never changes and has an amusing connotation . So since ancient times this has been a convenient way of finding out how old a person is . As an example, 2000 was the Year of the Dragon so a child born that year will be ten years old in the year of Tiger of 2010. By using the 12-year cycle, we can tell at once the ages of all persons with the same shengxiao , at whatever stage of life they may be : a boy in his teens is 16;a young woman is 28;a middle-aged man is 40 or 52 ; and an old grandmother is 64 or 76 or …
Chinese children are sometimes given pet names derived from their shengxiao, tough this is not common .
In greetings and birthday celebrations, Chinese people prefer to send cards with the receiver’s pictorial shengxiao printed on them . If you want to know about your shengxiao. Please look it up in the following table :
Mouse :    1900、1912、1924、1936、1948、1960、1972
Ox:              1901、1913、1925、1937、1949、1961、1973
Tiger:        1902、1914、1926、1938、1950、1962、1974
Rabbit:     1903、1915、1927、1939、1951、1963、1975
Dragon:   1904、1916、1928、1940、1952、1964、1976
Snake :     1905、1917、1929、1941、1953、1965、1977
Horse :      1906、1918、1930、1942、1954、1966、1978
Sheep:      1907、1919、1931、1943、1955、1967、1979
Monkey: 1908、1920、1932、1944、1956、1968、1980
Rooster:   1909、1921、1933、1945、1957、1969、1981
Dog:            1910、1922、1934、1946、1958、1970、1982
Pig:              1911、1923、1935、1947、1959、1971、1983

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