Ben Ming Nian

When it comes to ancient Chinese traditions, few are as revered and historically significant as Ben Ming Nian. Millions of Chinese people have observed this custom for centuries, and it’s still practiced throughout China today. Ben Ming Nian (sometimes spelled as Benmingnian) literally means "the year of one’s destiny". In this article, we will explore what Ben Ming Nian is, its significance in Chinese culture, and how you can get involved.

Chinese Zodiac Animals

What Is Ben Ming Nian? Ben Ming Nian (本命年 in Chinese), or Chinese zodiac year, refers to the year of the zodiac animal in which you were born. This concept comes from ancient Chinese astrology. In China, each lunar year is associated with an animal sign of the zodiac. There are 12 animal signs in the Chinese zodiac: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig, in that order.

It is believed that a person's life is greatly influenced by the zodiac year in which they are born. Ben Ming Nian is a very important year in which one should be especially cautious. It has a unique significance in many aspects of life, from determining happiness and fortune to providing direction for important decisions such as starting a business or getting married.

When is Your Ben Ming Nian?

Since there are 12 Chinese zodiac animals in a repeating cycle of 12 years, your Ben Ming Nian will come every 12 years when you are 12, 24, 36, 48, 60, 72, and so on.

How do you calculate your own Ben Ming Nian? The table below is the easiest way to find out your Ben Ming Nian (or Chinese zodiac year of birth) in most cases. However, if you were born in early February, you may need to look further below.

Traditionally, the Chinese zodiac signs are determined by Lichun, not the Chinese New Year. Lichun, the first of the 24 solar terms of the Chinese lunar calendar, marks the beginning of spring and reminds us that nature's rebirth is imminent. It usually falls on February 3, 4, or 5 in the Gregorian calendar. 

For example, Lichun of 2024 falls on February 10th and that of 2025 on January 29th. So the Chinese zodiac year of the Dragon 2024 was from February 10th, 2024 to January 28th, 2025. If a baby was born before February 10th, 2024, his/her zodiac year is Dragon, not Snake.

Chinese Zodiac Animal
Ben Ming Nian (Chinese Zodiac Year of Birth)
Rat (鼠, shǔ)
1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008, 2020, 2032
Ox (牛, niú)
1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009, 2021, 2033
Tiger (虎, hǔ)
1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010, 2022, 2034
Rabbit (兔, tù)
1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011, 2023, 2035
Dragon (龙, lóng)
1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012, 2024, 2036
Snake (蛇, shé)
1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013, 2025, 2037
Horse (马, mǎ)
1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014, 2026, 2038
Goat (羊, yáng)
1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015, 2027, 2039
Monkey (猴, hóu)
1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016, 2028, 2040
Rooster (鸡, jī)
1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017, 2029, 2041
Dog (狗, gǒu)
1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018, 2030, 2042
Pig (猪, zhū)
1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019, 2031, 2043

Ben Ming Nian 2024 and 2025

Chinese Zodiac Animal Rabbit

The year 2024 is the Year of the Dragon. For all the dragon natives out there, fortunes may fluctuate during your zodiac year. Zodiac Dragons should adopt a cautious and conservative investment strategy. Rabbits in Ben Ming Nian also need to pay special attention to health. Try to maintain a healthy lifestyle and find time to relax.

2025 will be the Year of the Snake. Zodiac Snakes may have negative thoughts, and tempers may flare. It’s wise to keep a low profile in your zodiac year. Even though your Ben Ming Nian won’t take place until 2025, it’s never too early to start preparing.

Why is Ben Ming Nian a Bad Luck Year?

It seems reasonable to think that your zodiac year will be a time of prosperity. After all, it’s your year. But it could be just the opposite. Ben Ming Nian is considered an unlucky year in Chinese culture because of "Fan Tai Sui".

Tai Sui (太岁) is the Guardian God of the Year. It’s believed that people will offend the Tai Sui God, called “Fan Tai Sui” in Chinese, in their zodiac sign’s year. According to Chinese astrology, people in their zodiac year are likely to face unexpected obstacles and challenges, such as troubles at work, financial loss, physical injury, death in the family, etc. Therefore, everyone should take extra care during their Ben Ming Nian.

But remember, you should try not to let fear of offending the Tai Sui God stop you from living a normal life. Ben Ming Nian is not always ominous. Some people in their zodaic year may experience opportunity rather than misfortune. You can be thankful that there are some solutions to please the Tai Sui God and reduce the negative effects.

How to Avoid Bad Luck in Ben Ming Nian?

1. Chong Xi

Traditional Chinese Wedding

Chong Xi (sometimes written as Chongxi, 冲喜 in Chinese) is a kind of Chinese folk belief that refers to the superstitious custom of trying to get rid of misfortune by performing a happy event. Among all the happy events, the best ones are getting married, having a child, and buying a house. However, because it's difficult to deliberately create such major life milestones, you can try to wash away bad luck with other happy events, such as a birthday dinner.

2. Pray to Tai Sui God

In China, people go to a Taoist temple to pray to the Tai Sui God. This traditional Taoism ritual is called “Bai Tai Sui” in Chinese. Religious followers believe that paying respect to the Tai Sui God at the beginning of the lunar year can help reduce the unfavorable impacts of offending the Tai Sui God.

3. Dress in Red

The color red is particularly popular with the Chinese. In traditional Chinese culture, red represents joy, celebration, and good fortune. It is also said to ward off evil spirits and invite good fortune. In Chinese folklore, many people wear something red (like a red bracelet or red underwear) during their zodiac year to ward off the bad luck of Fan Tai Sui. 

4. Blood Donation

It’s said that people are more prone to get a physical injury in the year of their zodiac sign. You can do good deeds such as blood donation, charity work, and monetary donations to avoid the misfortune of clashing with the Tai Sui God.

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