The Chinese zodiac is made up of a 12-year cycle, which repeats just like the cycles of the moon. Each year of the cycle is named after a different animal. No one seems to know for sure when the zodiac was created; however, it is thought to date back more than 2,000 years, to the Zhan Guo Period. More specifically, it may have been created sometime during the Han Dynasty, which spanned from 206 B.C. to 9 A.D.
The Chinese zodiac is rooted in Taoism, which is why some depictions of the zodiac include a yin-yang. Some legends also link its origins to Buddhism, stating that it was the Buddha himself who created the zodiac and its animal signs. Other stories credit its creation to the Jade Emperor.
Many variations of the Jade Emperor story exist, but the general consensus is that the emperor determined the zodiac signs via an animal race, which he held on his birthday. The 12 zodiac signs represent the 12 animals that took part in the race, and the order in which they appear on the zodiac is said to be the order in which they placed. Because the pig is said to have come in last in the race, it is the last sign of the zodiac. In some versions of the zodiac, the 12th year is called the year of the Boar rather than the year of the Pig.
Certain traits are associated with each animal of the Chinese zodiac, which are purportedly shared by anyone born during that year. Individuals born during the year of the Pig are believed to have a very calm nature, which may sometimes be mistaken for laziness. Pig signs are also said to be quite gullible and tend to put the needs of others ahead of their own — traits that explain the pig coming in last in the race in the Jade Emperor story. People born in the year of the Pig are also thought to be noble and family oriented.
Because of their calm nature and tendency to take care of others, Pig signs can make good doctors and veterinarians, but they might also excel in entertainment or hospitality careers. Pigs may also enjoy being their own boss. In terms of compatibility, individuals born in the year of the Pig are cautioned to avoid snakes and instead pair up with Sheep or Rabbit signs.
During the 20th century, anyone born during the following years would have the sign of the Pig: 1911, 1923, 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983 and 1995. Several famous and influential Chinese people were born during the Year of the Pig, including navigator Zheng He and Olympic champion Liu Xiang. The country’s aerospace program founder, Qian Xuesen, was also born during the Year of the Pig. Song Dynasty emperor Zhao Kuangyin and Yuan Dynasty founder Kublai Khan were Pig signs. Many famous American entertainers were also born during the year of the Pig, as well as other creative types like author Ernest Hemingway (1899—1961) and politician Hillary Rodham Clinton (1947— ).