The Origin of the Twelve Zodiac Signs

The twelve zodiac signs, also known as zodiac signs, are twelve animals in China that match the year of human birth with the twelve branches of the earth, including rats, cows, tigers, rabbits, dragons, snakes, horses, sheep, monkeys, chickens, dogs, and pigs.

The origin of the twelve zodiac signs is related to animal worship. According to the Qin slips unearthed from the Sleeping Tiger Land in Yunmeng, Hubei and Fangmatan in Tianshui, Gansu, there was a relatively complete zodiac system in the pre Qin period. The earliest recorded document of the twelve zodiac signs that are the same as modern times is Wang Chong's "Lunheng" in the Eastern Han Dynasty.

The twelve zodiac signs represent the twelve earthly branches, namely, Zi (Rat), Chou (Ox), Yin (Tiger), Mao (Rabbit), Chen (Dragon), Si (Snake), Wu (Horse), Wei (Sheep), Shen (Monkey), You (Chicken), Xu (Dog), and Hai (Pig). With the development of history, each zodiac sign has gradually integrated into the folk belief concept of mutually reinforcing each other, reflected in marriage, life, year luck, and other aspects. Each zodiac sign has rich legends, And based on this, a conceptual interpretation system has been formed, becoming a visual philosophy in folk culture, such as zodiac signs in marriage, temple fairs and prayers, and the year of the birth. In modern times, more people consider the Chinese zodiac as a mascot for the Spring Festival and a symbol of entertainment and cultural activities.

As a long-standing folk cultural symbol, the Chinese zodiac has left behind a large number of poems, spring couplets, paintings, calligraphy and painting, and folk craft works depicting the image and symbolic significance of the zodiac throughout history. Except for China, many countries around the world issue zodiac stamps during the Spring Festival to express their blessings for the Chinese New Year. The twelve zodiac shaped ice skate bike also made its debut at the closing ceremony of the 24th Winter Olympics in Beijing in 2022.