What the Chinese Zodiac Means for Babies Born This Year

written by ERIN CELLETTI
chinese zodiac dragon"
chinese zodiac dragon
Graphics by: Caitlin Schneider
Graphics by: Caitlin Schneider

It’s almost time to celebrate the Chinese New Year—also known as Lunar New Year and The Spring Festival—a festive time for those who follow the traditional lunisolar Chinese calendar. Starting on February 10 this year, Chinese and other Asian communities dance, give gifts, worship their ancestors, and pray. Each new lunar year, the symbol associated with the year changes according to the 12 different Chinese zodiac symbols. The Chinese zodiac of 2024 is the Year of the Dragon. 

Whether you’re currently expecting or are just curious about the fascinating world of the Chinese zodiac, we couldn’t help but wonder what the Year of the Dragon means for babies that will be born this year. So, we reached out to Dr. Jenelle Kim, a 9th-generation master herbalist, doctor of traditional Oriental medicine, and author, for her thoughts on what the Year of the Dragon means for the new little ones joining us this year. Here’s what she had to say.

Meet the expert
Dr. Jenelle Kim
Doctor of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine
Dr. Kim is nationally board-certified in herbology, Oriental medicine, and acupuncture.

What are the Chinese zodiacs? 

Dr. Kim explained, “In Traditional Oriental Medicine, the Chinese Zodiac, or Shengxiao, holds a special place, representing a 12-year cycle with each year symbolizing an animal. Each animal is believed to bestow distinct characteristics and energies on individuals born in its year. Unlike Western astrology, which follows the solar calendar, the Chinese Zodiac is lunar-based.”

From the spirited Rat to the wise Ox, each zodiac sign carries its own set of qualities that shape the personality of those born under its influence. Here are some general traits and characteristics of each.

Rat (鼠 – Shǔ)

1984, 1996, 2008, and 2020

Quick-witted, resourceful, and adaptable, representing intelligence and charm.

Ox (牛 – Niú)

1985, 1997, 2009, and 2021

Diligent, dependable, and strong, symbolizing hard work and reliability.

Tiger (虎 – Hǔ)

1986, 1998, 2010, and 2022

Brave, confident, and competitive, embodying courage and passion.

Rabbit (兔 – Tù)

1987, 1999, 2011, and 2023

Gentle, quiet, and elegant, representing kindness and sensitivity.

Dragon (龙 – Lóng)

1988, 2000, 2012, and 2024

Ambitious, charismatic, and innovative, a symbol of power and success.

Snake (蛇 – Shé)

1977, 1989, 2001, and 2013

Wise, intuitive, and graceful, representing intelligence and mystery.

Horse (马 – Mǎ)

1978, 1990, 2002 and 2014

Energetic, free-spirited, and adventurous, symbolizing perseverance and vitality.

Goat (羊 – Yáng)

1979, 1991, 2003, and 2015

Gentle, kind, and compassionate, symbolizing harmony and artistic sensibility.

Monkey (猴 – Hóu)

1980, 1992, 2004, and 2016

Intelligent, witty, and playful, signifying cleverness and resourcefulness.

Rooster (鸡 – Jī)

1981, 1993, 2005, and 2017

Punctual, hardworking, and confident, representing diligence and loyalty.

Dog (狗 – Gǒu)

1982, 1994, 2006, and 2018

Loyal, honest, and protective, symbolizing sincerity and reliability.

Pig (猪 – Zhū)

1983, 1995, 2007, and 2019

Compassionate, diligent, and generous, symbolizing sincerity and contentment. 

What’s special about the Chinese Zodiac of 2024? 

This year, Chinese New Year falls on February 10, marking the Year of the Dragon. Last celebrated in 2012, the Year of the Dragon has positive symbolism, bringing with it positive energy, and is considered to be a great time for new beginnings, trying new things, and exploring new ventures. 

Dr. Kim pointed out that the dragon is the only mythical creature in the zodiac (the rest are animals), which adds extra magic to the year. In Chinese culture, the dragon is celebrated to be a symbol of good fortune, success, and prosperity.

Babies born in the Year of the Dragon 

Dr. Kim said that those born this year “are often seen as natural leaders—ambitious, innovative, and not afraid to venture into uncharted territories.” Children born this year are said to be “blessed with bold energy and potential for great achievement,” while also benefiting from learning the values of empathy, cooperation, and humility. This balance, she said, will help in “nurturing their strong qualities while fostering a well-rounded character.”

Though these characteristics and traits are rooted in the Chinese zodiac belief system, Dr. Kim said that it is “essential to recognize that these traits are just foundational influences. The environment, upbringing, and personal choices ultimately shape an individual’s journey.”

For these children, she says, “Their story will be as unique and legendary as the dragon itself, shaped not just by the stars but by the world they grow and participate in.” 

Happy Lunar New Year!

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