Goat (zodiac)

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The Goat/Sheep (Chinese: ; pinyin: yáng) is the eighth sign of the 12-year cycle of animals that appear in the Chinese zodiac related to the Chinese calendar. The sign is also[1] referred to as the Ram or Sheep sign,[2] since the Chinese word yáng is more accurately translated as Caprinae, a taxonomic subfamily which includes both sheep and goats.[3]

The Year of the Goat (alternatively, Year of the Sheep or Year of the Ram) is associated with the 8th Earthly Branch symbol, (wèi).[4]

Goat or Sheep

The Chinese word yáng refers both to goats and sheep,[5] with shānyáng specifically goats and miányáng sheep.[6][7] In English, the sign (originally based on a horned animal) may be called either. The interpretation of sheep or goat depends on culture.[1] In Vietnamese, the sign is mùi, which is unambiguously goat.[8] In Japan, on the other hand, the sign is hitsuji, sheep;[8] while in Korea[9] and Mongolia the sign is also sheep or ram. Within China, there may be a regional distinction with the zodiacal yáng more likely to be thought of as a goat in the south, while tending to be thought of as a sheep in the north.[10]


The Chinese commonly regard sheep as an auspicious animal, and the Year of the Sheep, therefore, heralds a year of promise and prosperity.[6] "Yáng" (羊) is a component of another written Chinese character "xiang" (), which means auspiciousness, and the two were interchangeable in ancient Chinese, according to one source.[11] It is also a part of the character "shan" (), which counts kindness and benevolence as among its meanings.

Individuals born in this zodiac year have been supposed to share certain characteristics with other individuals also born in years of the same animal sign. Similarly, years sharing the same animal sign have been supposed to share certain characteristics, repeating over their 12/60 year cycle. The shared characteristics in this case are traits attributed to goats.

Due to the luni-solar nature of the traditional Chinese calendar system,[12] the "zodiacal" year does not align with the Western calendar: new years are determined by a system which results in each new year beginning on a new moon sometime between late January to mid-to-late February.[13] Goat aspects can also enter by other chronomantic factors or measures, such as hourly.

In Chinese astrology Goats are described as peace-loving and "kind" and "popular".[14] With the addition of the wood element, the Goat characteristic is thought to love peace and to be helpful and trusting, but yet also to be "clinging" and of a nature resistant to change.[15]

Years and the Five Elements

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

Start date End date Heavenly branch
17 February 1931 5 February 1932 Metal Goat
5 February 1943 24 January 1944 Water Goat
24 January 1955 11 February 1956 Wood Goat
9 February 1967 22 January 1968 Fire Goat
28 January 1979 15 February 1980 Earth Goat
15 February 1991 3 February 1992 Metal Goat
1 February 2003 21 January 2004 Water Goat
19 February 2015 7 February 2016 Wood Goat
6 February 2027 25 January 2028 Fire Goat
24 January 2039 11 February 2040 Earth Goat

Basic astrology elements

Earthly Branch of Birth Year: Wei
The Five Elements: Earth (Tu)
Yin Yang: Yin
Lunar Month: Sixth
Lucky Numbers: 3, 4, 9; Avoid: 6, 7, 8
Lucky Flowers: carnation, primrose, alice flower
Lucky Colors: green, red, purple; Avoid: gold, coffee

In popular culture

Marble statue of the Chinese Zodiac figure "Sheep", Waikoloa, Hawaii

Every twelve years the Year of the Goat is celebrated during worldwide Chinese New Year festivals.[1][9]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Wen Huang, "Year of the Sheep, Goat or Ram?" Chicago Tribune, January 31, 2003. Retrieved 8 February 2015.
  2. Theodora Lau and Laura Lau, Chapter 8: "The Sheep: The Eighth Sign of the Lunar Cycle", The Handbook of Chinese Horoscopes, pp. 193-220, Harper Collins, 1979 (paperback edition December 2010) ISBN 978-0061990915
  3. A Lunar New Year With a Name That’s a Matter of Opinion, Chris Buckley, New York Times, Feb. 18, 2015: "The reason is that the word for the eighth animal in the Chinese zodiac’s 12-year cycle of creatures, yang in Mandarin, does not make the distinction found in English between goats and sheep and other members of the Caprinae subfamily. Without further qualifiers, yang might mean any such hoofed animal that eats grass and bleats."
  4. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  5. Laurent Sagart, 25.5: Goats and Sheep, The Roots of Old Chinese John Benjamins Publishing (1999), pp. 194-195
  6. 6.0 6.1 Celebrating The Lunar New Year, Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in New York, Dec. 20 2001; in earlier form here. Retrieved 15 Feb. 2015.
  7. Ankita Varma, "Sheep muscle in on Year of the Goat", The Straits Times, Singapore, Jan 27, 2015. Retrieved 19 February 2015.
  8. 8.0 8.1 'Year of the Sheep' or 'Year of the Goat'?, CJV Lang. Retrieved 8 February 2015.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Erica Pearson, Lunar New Year celebrations to welcome year of ‘any ruminant horned animal’, New York Daily News, February 7, 2015. Retrieved 8 February 2015.
  10. Victor Mair quoted in Quartz. Retrieved 20 February 2015.
  11. Fran Wang, "Big Yang Theory: Chinese year of the sheep or the goat?", AFP, Asia One News, Feb 16, 2015. Retrieved 19 Feb. 2015.
  12. Space.com, Lunar New Year's Asian Barnyard Demystified (Video). Retrieved 23 Feb. 2015
  13. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  14. Hale, Jill, The Practical Encyclopedia of Feng Shui, New York: Barnes and Noble Books (2002). ISBN 0-7607-3741-X, p. 20
  15. Hale, p. 244