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The Ultimate Guide to Cancer: What to Know About the Sign, Cancer Traits and More

Hint: They’re potentially the most sentimental, hilarious and nurturing zodiac sign.


When summertime arrives, bringing with it long days filled with hours and hours of bright sunlight and more opportunities to slow down and revel in seasonal traditions while nurturing our bonds with loved ones, it’s undoubtedly time for the sun to move through Cancer, the cardinal water sign. The sun’s time in the sign of the Crab occurs annually from approximately June 21 to July 22. People whose sun sign and/or other birth chart placements (like their moon sign or rising sign) are in Cancer are emotionally intelligent, intuitive, sentimental and innately wired to care for others. Born with a natural love of home life and all things homespun and cozy, Crabs prioritize downtime with family and sharing comfort foods with their nearest and dearest. All of these themes go hand-in-hand with Cancer’s ruler, the moon, which oversees emotions, nurturing, security, instincts and intuition in astrology. 

Whether you’re interested in learning more about yourself or a loved one as a person born with a Cancer sun or other natal placements, read on for an in-depth guide to Cancer traits. Hint: They’re potentially the most sentimental, hilarious and nurturing zodiac sign.

Cancer traits, explained   

Because the sun’s trip through all 12 signs changes slightly from year to year, you’ll notice that sun sign dates do vary annually. However, if you or someone in your life was born between June 20-21 to July 22-23, you can guess that they were born with their sun — which oversees identity, self-image, confidence and purpose — in Cancer. 

It does bear noting that the sun sign is just one piece of a complex, multi-faceted puzzle that is your astrological birth chart. All the celestial bodies move at different paces through the zodiac, so it’s possible to have been born when the sun is in, say, Sagittarius (which falls from approximately November 22 to December 21) and still have a Cancer moon or rising. (To find out where Cancer falls in your chart, you’ll do well to run your birth chart.)

People who were born with their sun in the sign of the Crab tend to be compassionate, intrinsically caregiving, sensitive, deeply emotional, huge-hearted and ingratiatingly funny. At their best, they’re adoring snugglebugs who cherish and will do just about anything for their nearest and dearest.

Cancer traits: They’re funny

One of their most beloved pastimes, is, in fact, sending their loved ones into fits of gut-busting laughter, often induced by Cancer’s naturally goofy, hilarious sense of humor. And as one of the cardinal signs (the others include Aries, Libra and Capricorn), Cancers are go-getter visionaries who can apply their keen imaginations toward big picture endeavors. At their worst, their sensitivity to actions or words they find hurtful or disrespectful could lead to moodiness and snappiness (like a crab!). And should challenging emotions arise, pushing harder for them to chat it through could easily backfire, as they need time to hide out in their shell.  

cancer horoscope star sign with night sky

Cancer traits: They’re self-aware

It can be helpful to think of Cancer’s behavior as lunar-like in that their actions and behaviors are often influenced by the mood of the moment. In fact, this is one of the Crab’s greatest strengths and weaknesses. Uniquely capable of reading the emotional subtext of a given moment, Cancers excel at making other people feel seen, understood and cared for. And because they’re so adept at tuning into their own emotions, they can also be truly self-aware.

Cancer traits: They need their space

But at times, you could find they’re touchy, short-tempered or elusive simply because their words and actions can’t help but get run through the filter of their feelings. Say they clashed with their boss on the job earlier in the day — they’re more likely than others to bring their agitation into interactions with loved ones later in the day.

Again, this could be a case for simply allowing your beloved Cancer the time and space to retreat into their shell for a moment. Or it could be a reason to brew them their favorite tea or offer a back massage, as sometimes, they just need the same tender loving care that they’re so well-known for providing their loved ones with. 

Cancer traits: They’re romantics

As a water sign, Cancers are naturally artistic dreamers and romantics. This characteristic is noticeable in Cancer’s tendency to hold onto both physical mementos and cherished vivid memories. They love collecting ticket stubs, greeting cards, holiday ornaments and photo albums, perusing an antique shop for relics from the past or making playlists that pay tribute to a special vacation or nostalgic time in their lives. 

Cancer traits: They take pride in their surroundings

Because Cancer is associated with the Fourth House of Home Life, people born under the sign of the Crab take great pride making their spaces feel like a comforting sanctuary. You’ll usually find they’ve covered their walls in collage frames that document memories with loved ones and other artifacts that tell a story about some of their most beloved life moments, like posters of their favorite movies, sporting events or concerts. They’re also apt to be foodies who cherish the opportunity to cook and share delicious taste-testing experiences with relatives. The Fourth House is also associated with security, which is of utmost importance to Cancers who will go to great lengths to foster domestic bliss and financial stability for their own emotional well-being.

What Zodiac sign is Cancer is most compatible with?

cancer traits: Back view of crop anonymous man and woman holding hands while spending free time in nature during weekend

When considering compatibility, it’s a must to remember that sun signs cannot tell you everything about how you’ll connect or clash. To get the most accurate, detailed, nuanced sense of compatibility, you’ll want to consider your own and another person’s birth chart. Bearing that in mind, in general, Cancer is most compatible with their fellow water signs: mysterious, powerful, magnetic Scorpio and dreamy, psychic, empathic Pisces, as well as two of the three earth signs: service-oriented, thoughtful, sensitive Virgo and sensual, steady, similarly home-loving Taurus.

What zodiac sign is Cancer is least compatible with?

Those born under the sign of the Crab might butt heads with people who share Cancer’s cardinal quality: fiery, competitive Aries, cerebral, conflict-averse Libra and uncool, aloof, pragmatic Capricorn. 

What to know if you have other Cancer placements

Cancer astrological sign

If you’ve learned that planets other than the sun happened to be moving through the mutable air sign when you were born or your rising sign/ascendant is in Cancer, here’s what that means.

What Cancer moon means

If you were born when the moon — which oversees intuition, emotions and how you want to be nurtured — was in the sign of the Crab, where it’s right at home (aka in domicile), feeling close and connected to loved ones supports your sense of security and well-being. Whether you’re caring for them or being cared for, bonding is a must. You’re especially sentimental, imaginative and easily caught up in your emotions.

What Cancer rising sign means

Your rising sign or ascendant informs how people perceive you, at first blush, out in the world. If your rising is in Cancer, you come off as maternal, tender, self-protective and sensitive to your surroundings. You’re also quick to show up and care for others, whether they’re your own child, a beloved pet or a neighbor or colleague who you’ve learned could use a bit of extra support.

Related: What’s My Rising Sign? Everything to Know, According to an Astrologer

What Mercury in Cancer means

Mercury, the planet of communication, rules how we communicate and think, so with your Mercury in Cancer, how you feel in your heart of hearts can’t help but reflect through your words and perspective. When expressing yourself, you’re naturally funny and endearing, charming and warm. 

Related: Your 2024 Mercury in Cancer Horoscope: What’s in Store for You From June 17 to July 2

What Venus in Cancer means

Your Venus sign speaks to how you relate to others and to earning money, experience pleasure and express yourself artistically. With the planet of beauty in Cancer, you relate to others through sentimental gestures, recalling in vivid detail a memory you’ve shared or procuring a thoughtful, heartwarming gift that calls back to an inside joke or milestone you experienced together. When it comes to your sense of style, you’re drawn to classic, romantic details and soft, soothing hues that mirror your tenderness.

Related: Your 2024 Venus in Cancer Horoscope: What’s in Store for You From June 16 to July 11

What Mars in Cancer means

If Mars — which oversees action, energy and aggression — was moving through Cancer when you were born, you are a dynamic protector of your loved ones, home life and sense of security. You tend to be most productive and can move the ball forward on your goals and big picture visions when you are fueled by your feelings. And because you move through the world with an eye toward nurturing and helping others, you could be a truly inspiring mentor.

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