Explainer: Everything You Need to Know About the Year of the Tiger

By That's, January 27, 2022

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The Explainer is where we explain an aspect of Chinese life. Simple. So now you know.

There are many legends as to how the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac came to be chosen. Most go something like this.

The ancient Jade Emperor called a meeting of all the animals to decide who would be honored with the assignment of a zodiac year. He waited on the banks of a river and decided that he would award the years to the animals in the order they managed to make it across. 

Jade_Emperor__Ming_Dynasty.jpegJade Emperor via Wikimedia

Some animals used their natural abilities, such as the ox who swam, the rabbit who hopped from stone to stone and the dragon who flew.

Legend has it that the pig was the last animal to arrive because he stopped to eat during the journey. This explains why the pig is the last animal in the Chinese zodiac. 

As for the tiger, she also swam across the river and came in third place.

It is said that those born in the Year of the Tiger enjoy competition and are fierce individuals who enjoy fighting for a cause. However, they can be emotional and their passion has been known to get the best of them, really wearing their heart on their sleeve. 

Birth Years

1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010, 2022.

What are they like?

Powerful, authoritative, brave, self-assured, have a strong moral compass and belief system. 

Tigers make excellent…

Politicians. People born in the Year of the Tiger are excellent spin doctors and can play mind games. They also have a silver tongue and are good at winning arguments.  

Most compatible with…

Rooster, dog, dragon, horse and pig.

Mortal enemies with…

Snake and monkey.

Tiger idioms

Some idioms about the tiger refer to the animal’s strength and power. They are commonly used to describe the physically and figuratively powerful. 

如虎添翼 ru hu tian yi: This idiom’s direct translation is, “like a tiger that’s grown wings.” It refers to people in power gaining a further advantage. Imagine a tiger that could fly! Seriously powerful. 

虎背熊腰 hu bei xiong yao: A back as thick and as wide as a tiger, a waist as sturdy as a bear. You can use this to describe gym bros. 

虎啸风生 hu xiao feng sheng: When the tiger cries, the wind blows. It is a metaphor for the emergence of heroes who conform to the trend of the times and have a great impact on society. Like when Batman ditched the tights and went for leathers. 

鹰扬虎视 ying yang hu shi: AKA the less commonly known Muhammed Ali phrase, “fly like an eagle, look like a tiger.” This idiom is a metaphor for the mighty and valiant. 

酒虎诗龙 jiu hu shi long: It is a metaphor for a man who is good at drinking and who can write poetry. It is usually used to describe a joyous occasion. I don't know about you, but me and my boys always reach for the poetry book after a bottle of Henny. 


[Cover image via Flickr]

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