Pig (zodiac)

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Pig (Chinese characters).svg
"Pig" in Traditional (top) and Simplified (bottom) Chinese characters
Traditional Chinese
Simplified Chinese
Zodiac pig, showing the zhu (Zhu ) character for pig OMBRE CHINOISE SANGLIER.jpg
Zodiac pig, showing the zhū (猪) character for pig
Chinese paper cutting Chinese paper cutting-Pig.jpg
Chinese paper cutting

The Pig ( ) is the twelfth of the 12-year cycle of animals which appear in Chinese zodiac, in relation to the Chinese calendar and system of horology, and paralleling the system of ten Heavenly Stems and twelve Earthly Branches. Although the term "zodiac" (etymologically referring to a "[circle of] little animals") is used in the phrase "Chinese zodiac", there is a major difference between the Chinese usage and Western astrology: the zodiacal animals (including the zodiacal Pig) do not relate to the zodiac as the area of the sky that extends approximately 8° north or south (as measured in celestial latitude) of the ecliptic, the apparent path of the Sun, the Moon, and visible planets across the celestial sphere's constellations, over the course of the year.


In Chinese astrology, "zodiacal" animals refer to fixed cycles of twelve animals. The same cycle of twelve is used for cycles of years and cycles of hours. In the case of years, the cycle of twelve corresponds to the twelve-year cycle of Jupiter. In the case of the hours, the twelve hours represent twelve double-hours for each period of night and day. In the continuous sexagenary cycle of sixty years, every twelfth year corresponds to hai, (the twelfth of the twelve Earthly Branches); this re-recurring twelfth year is commonly called the Year of the Pig (豬年).

There are five types of Pigs, named after the Chinese elements. In order, they are: Metal, Water, Wood, Fire, and Earth. These correspond to the Heavenly Stems. Thus, there are five pig years in every sexegenary cycle. For example, in the year 2019, the Earthly Branch is the twelfth, hài, and the Heavenly Stem is the sixth, . The Chinese New Year in 2019 is February fifth: this corresponds with the beginning of both the sexegenary year of hài and also the zodiac year of the Earth Pig.

In the Japanese zodiac [1] and the Tibetan zodiac, [2] the Pig is replaced by the boar. In the Dai zodiac, the Pig is replaced by the elephant. [3] In the Gurung zodiac, the Pig is replaced by the deer. [4]

Pig in the Chinese zodiac legend

According to the myths, the Pig was the last to arrive when the Jade Emperor called for the great meeting. Other sources said that Buddha called for a great meeting when he was about to leave the Earth. The Pig came in last.

Legend has it that just as the emperor was about to call it a day, an oink and squeal was heard from a little Pig. The term "lazy Pig" is due here as the Pig got hungry during the race, promptly stopped for a feast then fell asleep. After the nap, the Pig continued the race and was named the 12th and last animal of the zodiac cycle. [5]

Other sources say that given his very stout form, he was just too slow a swimmer, and thus he could not do anything against the other animals, or it was too fast that he went up the wrong side of the river first.

Years and the Five Elements

The view of the Pig along the Coastal City of Gyeongju, North Gyeongsang Province, South Korea Korea-Gyeongju-Bulguksa-Gilt bronze pig sculpture-01.jpg
The view of the Pig along the Coastal City of Gyeongju, North Gyeongsang Province, South Korea

The Pig and the Elements

The natural element of the Pig is Water. Thus, it is commonly associated with emotions and intuitions. Yet, given that along with the elements (called the Celestial stem ), the animal zodiac (called the Earthly stem ) also follows a cycle, each of the elements affect the characteristic of the same Earthly stem (see Sexagenary cycle).

However, the Pig is yin, and thus only the negative aspects of the elements can be attached to them, thus only 5 kinds of Pigs are found in the zodiac. They are the following:

(yǐhài) – The Wood Pig
(dīnghài) – The Fire Pig
(jǐhài) – The Earth Pig
(xīnhài) – The Metal Pig
(guǐhài) – The Water Pig

The Years of the Pig

Sexagenary cycle years Sexagenary cycle years spirals.svg
Sexagenary cycle years

People born within these date ranges can be said to have been born in the "Year of the Pig", while bearing the following elemental sign:

Start dateEnd dateHeavenly Branch
10 February 189931 January 1900 Earth Pig
30 January 191118 February 1912 Metal Pig
16 February 19234 February 1924 Water Pig
4 February 193523 January 1936 Wood Pig
22 January 19479 February 1948 Fire Pig
8 February 195927 January 1960 Earth Pig
27 January 197114 February 1972 Metal Pig
13 February 19831 February 1984 Water Pig
31 January 199518 February 1996 Wood Pig
18 February 20076 February 2008 Fire Pig
5 February 201924 January 2020 Earth Pig
23 January 203110 February 2032 Metal Pig
10 February 204329 January 2044 Water Pig
28 January 205514 February 2056 Wood Pig
14 February 20672 February 2068 Fire Pig
2 February 207921 January 2080 Earth Pig
18 February 20916 February 2092 Metal Pig
4 February 210328 January 2104 Water Pig

Hour of the Pig

Similarly to the usage of the traditional Japanese clock, each hour of a day-night period was divided into 12 double-hours, each of which corresponding with one of the twelve signs of the Chinese zodiac, with similar symbolic motif and astrological significance. The first of the twelve double hours (the Hour of the Rat) encompasses midnight, at the middle of the double hour, corresponding with 11:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m., with midnight being the midpoint of the first double-hour. The animals in the hourly sequence are the same and in the same order as in the yearly sequence. The Pig is the last in the sequence, with the Hour of the Pig corresponding to the double-hour 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m., also known as the hour hai (亥). [6]

Given that the traditional Chinese day-night cycle was composed of 12 hours, each sign is given to the different signs of the zodiac. The Pig is assigned to govern the time between 21:00 hrs to 22:59 hrs. According to tradition, this is the time when the Pig is doing what it does best (sleeping and enjoying the sweet life).

In terms of astrology, the hours in which people were born (technically termed as the Ascendant) are the second most important facet of their astrology. Thus, this alters greatly the characteristics. Even if people were born in any year governed by another animal (for example, anyone born on 20 December 2000, i.e. year of the Dragon) will display strong characteristics of the Pig. Thus, they may be fierce and strong like the Dragon, but at the same time emotional and intuitive like the Pig.

Basic astrology elements

Earthly Branches of Birth Year:亥 Hai
The Five Elements: Water
The Five Planets: Mercury
Cardinal Point:North-Northwest (NNW)
Yin/ Yang:Yin
Lunar Month:Tenth
Closest Western Zodiac: Scorpio
Earthly Branch Ruling Hours:21:00 to 22:59
Twelve Heavenly Generals: Sanskrit : Kiṃbhīra (Hanzi: 宮毘羅)
Lucky Flowers: lily
Lucky Numbers:2, 5, 6, 8; Avoid: 3, 4, 9
Lucky Colors:yellow; Avoid: red, blue

Cultural notes

Some Chinese Muslims will say that they were born in the year of the hai, (twelfth and final year of the zodiac) to avoid saying the "Pig" [7] to be less offensive calling its proper name. This is because pigs are haram (forbidden to eat) in Islam and therefore Muslims consider pigs unclean.

Increasing numbers of countries and regions now issue lunar new year stamps. For the 2019 Year of the Pig, the USC U.S.-China Institute collected stamps from 56 jurisdictions. [8]

See also

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The Goat is the eighth of the 12-year cycle of animals which appear in the Chinese zodiac related to the Chinese calendar. This zodiacal sign is often referred to as the "Ram" or "Sheep" sign, since the Chinese word yáng is more accurately translated as Caprinae, a taxonomic subfamily that includes both goats and sheep, but contrasts with other animal subfamily types such as Bovinae, Antilopinae, and other taxonomic considerations which may be encountered in the case of the larger family of Bovidae in Chinese mythology, which also includes the Ox (zodiac). The Year of the Goat is associated with the 8th Earthly Branch symbol, (wèi).

Monkey (zodiac) Sign of the Chinese zodiac

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Ox (zodiac) Sign of the Chinese zodiac

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  6. Gillette, Maris Boyd (2002). Between Mecca And Beijing. Stanford: Stanford University Press. p. 124 via Google Book Search.
  7. "Celebrating the Year of the Pig". USC U.S.-China Institute. 4 February 2019. Retrieved 7 February 2019.

Further reading