Chinese astrology is a beautiful complement to western astrology and predates it many centuries. It could be said that they only have the word "astrology" in common; the eastern approach differs significantly from the western one in many other aspects. A very important part in Chinese astrology is played by their Chinese philosophy which is based on wisdom and knowledge that is many centuries old.
Chinese astrology uses the moon and the moon houses, to which belong 28 constellations. In addition to the moon houses, Chinese astrologers base their insights on 3 specific philosophical elements: the philosophy of the Chinese calendar, the philosophy of the five elements and Yin and Yang. Furthermore, they take account of the directions of the wind and the seasons.
The form of Chinese astrology that's most common in the west, has its foundations in the Ba Zi Chinese Zodiac. This zodiac represents the constellations as animals. The 12 animals do not at all resemble the western signs. According to some sources these animals stem from Buddhism, but according to other sources Chinese astrology existed long before Buddha.
The Chinese calendar
The most important difference is that our western calendar is based on the sun, while the Chinese calendar is based on the moon. The Chinese year doesn't begin on the first of January, as is the case in the west. The Chinese year begins on a well-defined date between January 21 and February 20. On top of that, a Chinese month consists of 29 to 30 days. A Chinese day is divided in 12 hours, such that 1 hour in the west corresponds to 2 hours in Chinese time.
Also, centuries are differently calculated then in the west. In the west, a century is made up of 100 years; the Chinese, however, divide it into 60 years. Furthermore, every period of 60 years is divided into 5 periods of 12 years.
These five periods correspond to the 5 elements. This means that a water rabbit is born only once every 60 years.