Finding out your Animal Sign – Using the Finger Method 1

“ I was born on the 2nd Jan 1974. What is my Chinese Zodiac animal sign?”, a friend asked.

Normally you would refer to the Ten Thousand Year Calendar reference to find the answer. However in this article, I will share a method using just the fingers on your hand (an some memory power)!

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The Chinese Lunar New Year can start as early as the 22nd of Jan or as late as the 22nd of Feb and it differs from year to year. For those born between these periods, you need to refer to the Ten Thousand Year calendar to find out the date (and time) for each year. For those born before or after these dates, we can use the finger counting method.

For those born after the 22nd of Feb 1970, say on the 6th June 1970 or 12 December 1970, your birth year is taken as 1970. If you are born before the 22nd of Jan 1970, say on the 3rd Jan 1970, your birth year is the previous year 1969.

Now that you have the year of birth, the next step is to remember the positions of the animal sign on your hand (left hand to be exact)! The diagram on the left shows the sequence and position of the 12 animals on your left hand.

hand-branch-positionDevise your own method to remember the positions as it is crucial to the method.

Next remember that the “Rat” position is the year 1924. Or in other words, you are a “Rat” if you are born in 1924.


Count in a clockwise direction one step as a time. 1925 is “Ox”, 1926 is “Tiger”, 1927 is “Rabbit” and so on. By the time you come back to the “Rat” position it is 1936 (or 12 years later). This also means that you are a “Rat” if you are born in years that are multiples of 12 from 1924. These years are 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996 and 2008

hand-branch-position-2What is the animal sign for someone born in 1988? What is the nearest Rat year prior to 1988. It is 1984. Use this as the starting point. Count again in a clockwise direction as shown in the diagram above. 1985 is the “Ox”, 1986 is the “Tiger”, 1987 is the “Rabbit” and finally 1988 is the “Dragon”.

What is the animal sign for someone born in 1958? The nearest year of the rat prior to 1958 is 1948. Again using 1948, year of the Rat as the starting point, count in a clockwise direction. 1948 is “Rat”, 1949 is “Ox”, 1950 is “Tiger”, 1951 is “Rabbit”, 1952 is “Dragon”, 1953 is “Snake”, 1954 is “Horse”, 1955 is “Goat”, 1956 is “Monkey”, 1957 is “Rooster” and finally 1958 is “Dog”.

hand-branch-position-3Of course if you are very familiar with the sequence of the zodiac animal signs, you also take the next closest year of the rat, which is 1960 and count two years or step backwards and arrive at the same answer!

It is that simple. In the second part of this article, I will also share with you an extension of this method so that you can figure out the heavenly stem of the year. The heavenly stem governs the element of the year and explain why 2011 is the year of the Metal Rabbit.

See you soon.


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