The ancient Chinese calendar is a lunar calendar. The Chinese New year of 2014 is the year 4712 in the Chinese calendar. In Chinese Astrology there are three main cycles; the 12 earthly stems, yin and yang and the 10 heavenly stems.
Each of the 12 earthly stems has a name of an animal in the order of: the rat, the ox, the tiger, the rabbit, the dragon, the snake, the horse, the ram, the monkey, the rooster, the dog and the pig.
Each of the 10 heavenly stems is one of five elements and either yin or yang. The five elements are yin fire, yang fire, yin earth, yang earth, yin metal, yang metal, yin water, yang water, yin wood, and yang wood.
For instance this Chinese year(2014) has the sign of “yang wood horse”. A Chinese astrologer studies the characteristics of the “horse” combined with the influences of “yang” and the “wood” element. He pays close attention to compatibilities in marriage, successful career choices and opportunities in business. Many Chinese business men choose to consult an astrologer before making important decisions. Also, some traditional Chinese medicine doctors consider the astrological sign of the patient as part of his treatment plan for the patient.
A full cycle of 12 animals rotating through 5 elements takes 60 years to complete. Therefore a child born this year will not return to the year of the “yang wood horse” until he is sixty years old.
Some years are particularly auspicious for the birth of a child. One such is the year of the dragon, a mythical creature, which is a symbol of might and intelligence. In ancient China, the dragon was associated with the emperor. Children, especially boys, born in the year of the dragon, are said to be destined to be successful and wealthy.
The year 2002 was the year of the “yang water dragon”. Accordingly the birth rates increased markedly both in China and in Hong Kong.
If you wish to find your Chinese astrology birth sign there is a very good list of years and signs on Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_astrology