February 23, 2022

Chinese vs. Western Astrology: What Are the Differences?


If you have ever wondered what’s the difference between the Chinese and Western Zodiac, this is your lucky day.

The main similarity is that these two divination systems are based on the date and time of birth, with 12 symbols or zodiac signs.

Here we have some of the main differences to make it easier to grasp.

The 12 Signs

In both zodiacs, there are 12 zodiac signs, and two are very similar to each other: the Ox/Bull and the Goat/Ram.

The Chinese zodiac signs are the following: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig. 

The Western zodiac signs are these: Ram (Aries), Bull (Taurus), Twins (Gemini), Crab (Cancer), Lion (Leo), Virgin (Virgo), Scales (Libra), Scorpion (Scorpio), Centaur (Sagittarius), Sea-Goat (Capricorn), Water-Bearer (Aquarius), and Fish (Pisces).

Origins of the Zodiac Signs

A myth in Chinese Astrology says that when God was creating the calendar, all creatures on planet Earth were called to participate in a race.

The first 12 creatures that crossed the lines were designed as the signs of the Chinese Zodiac. 

In Western Astrology, the 12 zodiac signs are based on stars’ constellations named according to Greek mythology.

Zodiac Months

The Chinese and the Western zodiac have a half-month overlap. Each Chinese Zodiac Animal was assigned a month on the Chinese solar calendar.

Each Chinese animal zodiac sign corresponds with two of the 24 solar terms for a similar amount of time to a Western zodiac month.

The Chinese Zodiac Wheel starts with the Rat around December 7 or winter solstice in the North Emisphere, matching Sagittarius and Capricorn season.

Your Birth Year or Month

The zodiac signs in Western Astrology are divided per month, while the Chinese signs are divided on a yearly basis. 

Chinese Astrology believes that people born in the same year have matching personality traits, while Western Astrology says that those born in the same few weeks have similar personalities.

In addition, in Western Astrology, the planets symbolize specific motivations of the human psyche. On the other hand, Chinese astrology has three different areas that influence our fate: birth hour, day, month, and year.

These four areas or pillars are based on the alignment of periods of time in the Chinese calendar, while Western Astrology focuses on aspects with planets and other celestial bodies.

Lunar, But Mostly Solar

Chinese culture worships the Moon. In their Astrology system, each month begins with the New Moon and lasts the same as its cycle (29 or 30 days).

That’s why the Chinese New Year date can change by a month if we compare it with the solar calendar.

However, the traditional Chinese astrology system uses the solar calendar to lay out horoscopes and make predictions.

The Western Astrological calendar results from the Earth’s orbit around the Sun, giving each zodiac month a set date that lasts around 29 and 31 days.

Lunar Phases in Chinese and the Western Astrology

Chinese Astrology focuses on the lunar phase at birth, new Moon, waxing Moon, full Moon, and Waning Moon.

New Moon people seek creative and innovative environments. Waxing Moon people are hard workers; Full Moon types are mediators and diplomatic, while Waning Moon individuals crave quiet and peaceful settings.

Also, Western Astrology considers two lunar nodes: the North and the South Node. However, planets are always seen as more relevant.

Concerning the Elements

In Chinese Astrology, each element has a motivating force in our life. It has five elements to consider: fire, Earth, metal, water, and wood.

The Chinese zodiac element rotation lasts 60 years since there are five elements and the animals are on 12-year cycles. In Chinese Astrology, each sign has an earth, metal, fire, wood, and water element, depending on each person’s birth year.

Fire signs are boosted by passion and excitement, earth signs are based on security, metal signs are meant to bring order, water signs are motivated to build emotional connections, and the wood element people are eager to explore.

In Western Astrology, there are four elements: fire, air, earth, and water. Each element is related to three zodiac signs with specific psychological features.

Water signs see reality through emotions, earth signs are more patient and practical, fire signs are passionate and impulsive, and air signs are more rational.