Good afternoon, Netizens...
In just a few hours Non-Chinese and Chinese alike around the world will begin celebrating Chinese New Year, the year of the ox. Considered by most ethnic Chinese families to be the most-significant day in China, you might be surprised, as I once was, at the number of Americans who have immigrated here from China who still honor the old traditions of welcoming the New Year.
However, if you suffer from perpetual intellectual curiosity, you need look no further than the history, evolution and deep-seated implications of not only Chinese astrology but the definitions given to each year of their 12-year cycle on the calendar. Each year of the 12-year cycle is named after one of the original 12 animals. Each animal has a different personality and different characteristics. The animal is believed to be the main factor in each person's life that gives them their traits, success and happiness in their lifetime.
I highly recommend you read the entire entry in the Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_astrology#The_12_zodiac_animals which gives us a good overview of the entire Chinese system of astrology. If you also perform a search for “Chinese Astrology” you will end up perhaps in deeper intellectual waters than perhaps you might be willing to explore. Remember the words of the Chinese philosopher, Lao Tse, who once wrote simply, “All diligence is rewarded.”
In fact, if you include a brief study of the five elements or even the inner animals Chinese astrologers use to determine your fates, you might find yourself getting a migraine headache. Otherwise you might, as I have always done, felt mystified and dazzled somewhat by the fact that a full three quarters of the world's population pay homage to this ancient system that dates back to before 2935 BC. Chinese astrology and philosophy are both incredibly complex systems which, despite their many sharp differences between them and Western thought, are remarkably accurate.