In the previous post, we mentioned that 2016 is called the Year of Monkey. In daily life, the 12 zodiacs, all represented by animals, are used quite a lot. For example, I once impressed my Canadian roommate by guessing her Chinese zodiac sign when she told me her year of birth!
As you might expect, there is a story behind the 12 zodiac animals to explain how they were chosen. It goes as follows. Once upon a time, the Jade Emperor – the dominant God in Chinese culture – invited animals to participate in a race in order to become Guardians of Heaven. The first 12 animals to cross the Heavenly Gate, the finish line, would become Guardians.
The rat finished the race first and therefore became the first animal of the Chinese zodiac. As the legend goes, a river with a swift current crossed the race track. When he arrived at the river, the rat found himself stuck as he was unable to cross the obstacle. So, he climbed on the back of the ox, close behind. When the ox was about to reach the Heavenly Gate, the rat jumped down at the feet of the Jade Emperor, wittingly beating the ox who became the second animal of the zodiac. 10 other animals successfully finished the race: in order, the tiger, the rabbit, the dragon, the snake, the horse, the sheep, the monkey, the rooster, the dog and the pig. These 12 animals therefore formed the Chinese zodiac.
Another twist to this traditional legend is the story of the cat and the rat. According to the story, the reason there is no cat in the zodiac is that, on the day of the race, the cat decided to doze off and asked the rat to wake him up in time for the race. Unfortunately for the cat, the rat did not, and he overslept, missing the race. Next time you see a cat pouncing at a mouse or a rat, it might well be that the cat is still resentful for missing the race!
By – Nancy