The Rat is the first of all zodiac animals. According to one myth, the Jade Emperor said the order would be decided by the order in which they arrived to his party. The Rat tricked the Ox into giving him a ride. Then, just as they arrived at the finish line, Rat jumped down and landed ahead of Ox, becoming first.

The Rat is also associated with the Earthly Branch (地支—dì zhī) Zi (子) and the midnight hours. In the terms of yin and yang (阴阳—yīn yáng), the Rat is yang and represents the beginning of a new day.

In Chinese culture, rats were seen as a sign of wealth and surplus. Because of their reproduction rate, married couples also prayed to them for children.

Rats are clever, quick thinkers; successful, but content with living a quiet and peaceful life.

Recent years of the Rat are: 1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008, 2020.

Paired with the Celestial Stems (天干—Tiān gān), there is a 60-year calendrical cycle. Although zi is associated with water, the years also cycle through the five elements of nature (五行—wǔ xíng).

See the table below for the full details of each year.

Year Zodiac Earthly Branch Celestial Stem Element Yin Yang
1924 Rat zi jiǎ Wood Yang
1936 Rat zi bǐng Fire Yang
1948 Rat zi Earth Yang
1960 Rat zi gēng Metal Yang
1972 Rat zi rén Water Yang
1984 Rat zi jiǎ Wood Yang
1996 Rat zi bǐng Fire Yang
2008 Rat zi Earth Yang
2020 Rat zi gēng Metal Yang

Personality and characteristics

Optimistic and energetic, people born in the Rat year are likable by all. They are sensitive to other’s emotions but are stubborn with your opinion. Their personality is kind, but due to weak communication skills, their words may seem impolite and rude.

On the financial side, they like saving and can be stingy. However, their love for hoarding will sometimes cause them to waste money on unnecessary things.

Element Year Fortune
Metal 1960 These Rats tend to be reliable and live a stable life. They may hold some power and are able to turn unlucky events into fortune.
Water 1972 These Rats encounter hardships in the early days. They become successful during their middle ages and create a happy family. However, relatives and close friends may weigh them down.
Wood 1924, 1984 These Rats are multi-talented. They are strong-willed and always finish what they begin.
Fire 1936, 1996 These Rats have high IQs and EQs. They are average during youth, develop well in the middle ages and have great fortune later in life.
Metal 1948, 2008 These Rats are good speakers. They’re the mood makers of a group, but can be slightly possessive. They face difficulties in their youth, but are generally able to withstand them.

Men born in the Rat year are clever and adapt quickly to new environments. They are creative great at taking advantage of opportunities. However, they sometimes lack the courage to do so. Although they have great ideas, they might not be suitable for leadership positions.

Women born in the Rat year are the traditional women. They love keeping things organized and place great value on the family. Everything is taken care of by them and there is no need for their husband to worry. Outside of home, they’re also someone with a sense of responsibility and ability.


Most compatible with Rat: Ox, Dragon, Monkey

Rat’s fixed Earthly Branch is water, while Ox is earth. They complement and help one another in both work and life.

Couples that are formed from Rat and Dragon will be able to understand each other well, and enjoy success together.

Similar to Dragons, Monkeys get along great with Rats, and tend to live happily ever after like a fairytale.

Least compatible with Rat: Horse, Goat and Rabbit

The Earthly Branches of Rat and Horse clash strongly. No matter what a Rat does, it won’t be enough for the Horse.

Goats are attracted to Rat’s wealth and hope to control it, making it a rocky relationship.

The Rabbit will either purposely or unintentionally go against the Rat’s wishes, while the Rat can only keep silent.

Lucky things for Rats

  • Colors: blue, gold, green
  • Numbers: 2, 3
  • Flowers: lily, African violet, valley lily
  • Directions of auspiciousness: southeast, northeast
  • Directions of wealth: southeast, east
  • Directions of love: west

Unlucky things

  • Colors: yellow, brown
  • Numbers: 5, 9

Careers fit for Rats

Because of their independence and imagination, they are suitable for creative jobs. These include authors, editors and artists. However, if they join a team, their creative outlet may be blocked.

Rats also pay attention to fine detail. They are fit for technical work, such as engineering and architecture.

They are alert, but have a lack of courage. This makes them unsuitable as police officers, entrepreneurs or other leadership and political positions. Although Rats make good financial decisions, they should be careful not to invest with a close friend. It will not only cause money problems, but also affect the friendship.

Health and lifestyle

Since childhood, Rats have frail health. They have energetic personalities, but tire quickly. They catch colds often, but thankfully do not have serious illnesses.

They are sensitive to change in temperature. Not only is cold weather unbearable for them, they also can’t stand hot weather. But despite seeming weak and not being able to perform hard physical work, they enjoy longevity.

Rats can eat anything, whether they are delicacies or plain food. However, they should pay attention to their diet. Many times, they will get too into work and forget to eat. Going long periods without food and suddenly bingeing cause problems in their digestive system. Enemies of their health also include smoking and drinking habits.

For a healthy life, Rats must remember to eat breakfast, do moderate exercise and remain cheerful.

Rats in the Year of the Dog (2018)

Overall, the Year of the Dog will be average for Rats. Nothing too drastic will happen. Unexpected emergencies may occur, but good fortune will appear near the end of the year.


It’s advised to not invest large sums of money and start small for entrepreneurs. There will be times when efforts seem fruitless. Remember that Dog years are years of hard work and its unsuitable to ask for rewards. However, Rats should seize the opportunities that may occur.

Successful months are: Lunar March (April 16-May 14), July (August 11-Sept 9) and December (Jan 6-Feb 4, 2019).

The months with most work obstacles are: Lunar January (Feb 16-March 16), May (June 14-July 12), August (Sept 30-Oct 8) and October (Nov 8-Dec 6).

You must learn how to work in a team for these months.


In 2018, Rats will most likely want to slack off on their studies. Their low spirits will no doubt influence their learning. If they can’t be motivated and put themselves fully into their education, it might be better to give up on a higher degree.


Rats should be careful of sharp objects in 2018. It’s also easy to fall and get some bumps and scratches.

Men need to prevent infections in the urinary system. Women should pay attention to intestinal disease. Other than that, Rats should just eat well every day. Do not go onto extreme diets this year, else the consequences will be grave.

The Year of the Dog is a year of strengthening one’s body. It’s suitable for moderate and regular exercise. There is also good luck with curing diseases. If a Rat have recurring ailments, they will finally be able to make some progress in recovering.

Healthy months are: Lunar March (April 16-May 14), July (August 11-Sept 9) and December (Jan 6-Feb 4, 2019).

Months where Rats must be careful with their health are: Lunar January (Feb 16-March 16), June (July 13-August 10), August (Sept 30-Oct 8) and November (Dec 7-Jan 5, 2019).

The chances of food poisoning are especially high in November.


In 2018, Rats will be able to attract others. The Chinese call this good luck the peach blossom fate (桃花运—táo huā yùn). However, they may also run into rotten peach blossoms (烂桃花—làn táo huā). So for this year, Rats should think carefully and do not make brash decisions regarding dating and marriage.

Those born in 1996 can go after the people who catch their attention, but there’s no rush for marriage yet. Those born in 1984 and earlier should be careful not to spend too much time on work and neglect the family.

The sweet months are: Lunar February (March 17-April 15), July (August 11-Sept 9), September (Oct 9-Nov 7) and December (Jan 6-Feb 4, 2019).

Months where relationship problems will easily occur are: Lunar April (May 15-June 13), June (July 13-August 10) and November (Dec 7-Jan 5, 2019).


The directions of fortune and wealth for Rats this year are northwest and southwest. It would be the best to put the worktable and sofa in these positions of the room. Lucky numbers that will open the road to wealth are 1 and 6.

To avoid evil spirits, do not put important furniture in the southeast and northeast.

The lucky colors in 2018 are yellow, brown and red. Decorating the home or wearing these colors will help greatly with changing luck for the better. Colors to be avoided are blue and black.

The Dog Year is also known as the Vacation Year. It’s a great time for travels to foreign countries. North America and Europe are the best destinations. However, northern regions should be avoided. Traveling to Southeast Asia is also unlucky this year.

Overall, Rats have what it takes to live a happy and content life. The only things stopping you are your bad habits. Fix the habits and be alert of changes in the surroundings for success.