Signs of the times

What’s your sign?

No, not Pisces, which we’re in, or Aries, which we’re headed to.

I mean, your Chinese sign. Were you born in the year of the snake? We’re in the year of the snake now, which means we’re all going to have to pay attention to detail if we want to achieve our goals. Snake people are good at that, being meticulous.

But maybe you were born in the year of the horse, or the dragon or the sheep.

The one thing that’s certain is that you were born in the year of some animal. The Chinese zodiac, used throughout the Far East, has 12 animal signs, unlike the western zodiac, which mixes objects and mythological figures with animals.

Also unlike the western zodiac, the Chinese one is not based on constellations but folk tales. What they have in common is that both zodiacs are used as guides to people’s personalities and destinies, although some think their significance is more metaphoric than actual.

The Chinese menagerie’s traits break down as follows:

Rat – Imaginative, witty, talkative

Ox – Dependable, determined, strong

Tiger – Fearless, volatile, competitive

Rabbit – Sociable, sensitive, compassionate

Dragon – Ambitious, adventurous, passionate

Snake – Analytical, graceful, materialistic

Horse – Honest, outgoing, self-centered

Goat (sheep) – Intelligent, calm, introspective

Monkey – Clever, playful, impish

Rooster – Loyal, confident, proud

Dog – Kind, compatible, dependable

Pig – Generous, diligent, peaceful

Simple, right? Go on any number of websites, plug in the year you were born and all the mysteries of your personality will be revealed to you.

Not so fast, kemosabe. You might have different animal signs for the month, day and hour you were born. Ugh, no wonder we’re such complex creatures. And so much work.

But that’s similar to the western zodiac, in which you may be born under one sun sign but have a different moon or ascendant sign. And don’t even get us started on those astronomers and astrologers who say that there is a 13th zodiac sign, Ophiuchus, which should fall from Nov. 29 to Dec. 17 and would louse up everyone’s birth sign.

Although some clever sort did note that coming right after Thanksgiving and before Christmas, Ophiuchus could be the shopping sign.

Now that’s one sign we can all get behind.

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