Chinese Zodiac

The term zodiac comes from two Greek words that mean a dial of animals.  Think of zo as zoology.  The 12 sizes of the zodiac in western astrology are comprised of both human and animal representations, such as the ram, bull, crab, lion, scorpion, goat and fish along with a centaur and a pair of scales.  The 12 signs of the Chinese zodiac is solely animals, with three of the same animals, i.e., the ram, ox (bull) and goat.  

The Chinese zodiac is based upon years rather than months.  It is thought that it is based on the orbit of Jupiter, which takes 12 years to orbit.  It is the largest planet in our solar system.  

The zodiac signs of the western system were derived from the appearance of the constellations along our Sun's elliptic.  

The western zodiac starts with the fire sign of Aries, which is the ram.  The Chinese zodiac starts with the water element sign of the Year of the Rat.  Here is a list of the following signs:

Year of the Ox - earth
Year of the Tiger - wood
Year of the Rabbit - wood
Year of the Dragon - earth
Year of the Snake - fire
Year of the Horse - fire
Year of the Goat - earth
Year of the Monkey - metal
Year of the Rooster - metal
Year of the Dog - earth
Year of the Pig - water

In addition to the year sign, there is also a month sign called inner animals, a day sign called true animals, and an hour sign called secret animals.