Language & Culture

Vietnamese zodiac – introducing the 12 animals of lunar calendar

Each lunar new year in Vietnam is themed with an animal, one of the 12 Vietnamese zodiac animals. Why is this and how does the Vietnamese zodiac system work?

Why your birth year is important in Vietnam

In Vietnam astrology is based on the year of your birth (according to the lunar calendar), unlike the West where star signs are based on the birth month.

It’s said that the year of our birth, and the animal associate with that year, tells us things about ourselves and our lives.

Your Vietnamese zodiac year affects how you give your age. Rather than being asked how old you are or the year of your birth, you may be asked which animal sign you were born under. From which people can work out your relative age and know how to address you correctly, as well as assuming some personality traits based on your lunar zodiac animal.

Is the Vietnamese zodiac the same as Chinese?

The Vietnamese zodiac follows similar principles to the Chinese zodiac, with a different animal for each lunar year.

The main difference lies in the actual animals associated with the year. Most of the animals are the same with the exception of the Vietnamese cat (Chinese rabbit) and water buffalo (Chinese ox). These two creatures are thought to represent Vietnamese culture better than their Chinese counterparts.

What is my Vietnamese zodiac sign?

First of all remember that the signs follow the lunar new year, not the Western calendar year.

If you were born in January or early February, you may need to double check whether you were born before or after the lunar new year.

The 12 Vietnamese zodiac animals (con giáp)

The lunar year that’s currently ending is the year of the tiger and the new lunar year starting on 22 January 2023 is the year of the cat in Vietnam.

Here’s a list of the Vietnamese zodiac animals and the years they’ve occurred or will next occur:

Year of the Rat (con tý / chuột) 1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008, 2020
Year of the Water Buffalo (con trâu) 1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009, 2021
Year of the Tiger (con hổ) 1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010, 2022
Year of the Cat (con mèo) 1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011, 2023
Year of the Dragon (con rồng) 1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012, 2024
Year of the Snake (con rắn) 1929, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013, 2025
Year of the Horse (con ngựa / ngọ) 1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014, 2026
Year of the Goat (con mùi / dê) 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015, 2027
Year of the Monkey (con thân / khỉ) 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016, 2028
Year of the Rooster (con dậu / gà) 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017, 2029
Year of the Dog (con tuất / chó) 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018, 2030
Year of the Pig (con lợn, heo) 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019, 2031

Some years have two names as the northern and southern words for that animal differ.

How to ask and answer about zodiac signs

If you want to know someone’s animal sign you can ask: Con giáp của bạn là gì?

You’d answer like: Mình tuổi con mèo. (I was born in the year of the cat. Literally said as “I’m cat age”.)

Over to you: What’s your Vietnamese zodiac animal sign?

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