If you have ever been asked “what is your zodiac sign?” by a Chinese friend don’t think they are just making small talk. Not only will you unwittingly reveal your age by stating your zodiac sign, but people will also take the opportunity to evaluate your personality, career prospects, and even love compatibility right there on the spot.
So what exactly is the Chinese zodiac?
The Chinese zodiac, or shēng xiāo (“born resembling”), is a 12-year cycle that has been calculated according to the Chinese lunar calendar for over 2,000 years. Each year in the cycle relates to an animal sign, which are rat (鼠 shǔ), ox (牛 niú), tiger (虎 hǔ), rabbit (兔 tù), dragon (龙 lóng), snake (蛇 shé), horse (马 mǎ), sheep (羊 yáng), monkey (猴 hóu), rooster (鸡 jī), dog (狗 gǒu), and pig (猪 zhū).
2019, which began on Feb 5, 2019 and will end on Jan 24, 2020, is a year of the Pig. Below are four things that you might not know about the Pigs in your life (or about yourself should you happen to be of the porcine variety).
Why the Pig came last
There are many versions of the legend relating to the zodiac depending on where you travel to in China. The most widespread story has it that one day the Jade Emperor (玉皇大帝 yù huáng dà dì), AKA the Heavenly Emperor in folklore, wished to select 12 animals as the calendar signs. He spread the word and for a little motivation added that the earlier each animal came to him the higher the rank they would be awarded. Not wanting to miss out on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, every animal set off towards the Heavenly Gate the next day. However, the slovenly pig overslept and therefore arrived in last place. Another version of the story states that the pig in fact set off much earlier than the others, but because he walked so slowly, he found himself in last place by the time he arrived.
Personality of the Pig
If you say you are born in the year of Pig, people immediately know that you are either 12, 24, 36, 48, or 60 etc. years old and born in 2007, 1995, 1983, 1971, 1959, and so on. Of course you may have also been born in 2019 (welcome!), but if so we’re a little afraid if a) you’re reading this blog and b) are already able to articulate your zodiac sign.
Pigs usually steadfast and demonstrate great concentration; once they make their mind up, they will devote themselves to following through with their decision. They might not stand out in a crowd, but they can make up for it because of their realistic, diligent, and energetic nature. They may also be too honest or straightforward at times, with their pure heart allowing them to be cheated easily, and they tend to get too involved in the small struggles of daily life.
Career prospects of the Pig
Pigs are usually very tolerant and gentle, and it’s hard for them to change jobs. They’ll settle things quickly and want everyone to live harmoniously. Jobs related to the environment, charity, and social work might be best suited for them, and if a Pig is looking to go into business they need to be ready to take some risks and be courageous.
Love compatibility of the Pig
Some Chinese, especially the older generations, still believe certain animals get on better than the others and that the right combination of animals can bring harmony to their families.
Best match: Rabbit, Goat, Tiger
These signs are all gentle, are easy to compromise with, and know how to take care of one another. There should be little to no drama and turmoil in the relationship.
Worst match: Snake
The Pig and the Snake are not really compatible because often neither is willing to share deep emotions with one another; they’d rather hide their dissatisfaction than get into an argument.
Of course, these astrological readings are largely taken with a grain of salt by outsiders and China’s younger generation but that’s not to say you can’t have a little fun with them. Who knows, you may find your perfect Piggy match just by striking up conversation.
All this pig talk making you hungry? Here are 10 of Beijing’s best pork dishes.
This article originally featured on our sister site beijingkids.