The Chinese lunar calendar is the longest chronological record in history and dates from 2637 B.C. when the first cycle of the zodiac was introduced. The current (78th) cycle started on February 1984 and will end on February 2044.
According to legend, the Lord Buddha summoned all the animals to come to him before he departed from this plane. Twelve animals were assigned to each of the twelve years as only twelve animals came to bid him farewell. He named a year after each one in the order that it arrived. First came the mouse (rat), then the Ox, the Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep (goat), Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig. And so we have the twelve animal signs of today. The animal ruling the year in which you were born exercises a profound influence on your life.
By studying the animal of the year in which you were you will discover what hides in your heart, and the heart of others. Not only will you then understand yourself, but you should be able to predict what you can expect from your personal and professional relationships, as well as from a given year. You will find signs you will be most or least likely to be compatible with.
As always bear in mind that there are bound to be exceptions depending on the sign that influences the time of your birth and the sign governing the month of your birth, too.