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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Year of the Tiger... RAWR! and the Chinese Zodiac

If you didn't know yet this year is the Year of the Tiger. The above shows the years associated with the 12 animals of the Chinese Zodiac the Rat being the first and the Pig being the last. Each one is associated with certain traits very similar to the Western Zodiac. But what people might not know is why is it in this order? Why is the small rat first? Here is one of the renditions of the story of the Chinese Zodiac.

Long ago in ancient China the Jade Emperor ( or in some cases Buddha) has asked the animals to join him for a feast (or meeting in some cases) on a certain day. All the animals compiled except for the Cat who was sleeping (or preoccupied). The Rat decided to play a trick on him and said that the feast was the day after the time they were suppose to met.

On the day of the feast the animals had to travel (except the cat who was tricked) all the way to Heaven, this required crossing mountains and fording rivers. The little rat who was the smallest of all the animals was also the cleverest and noted the ox was the fastest and strongest of the animals not because of just his strength but his perseverance. The rat being tiny jumped and hid in the ox's ear (in some tales the rat tricked the ox) and right before they reached the gates the rat jumped out and was thus first of the animals to arrive. From then on the Chinese Zodiac consisted of Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig.

As for the cat... he found out too late that the rat had tricked him. Since then cats have always hated rats.Fruit Baskets: One of my favorite Anime based on Zodiac =D

I've heard of this story before though the cat part was something recent that is sometimes included in the tale depending on where your source is from. For more detailed fun on the Chinese Zodiac you can check out this very detailed site: Chinese Zodiac - Chinese Astrology

Until next time... =D


Angela said...

Very interesting story! I am an Ox!

Pili said...

That's a very interesting story!
As I've said before, I'm loving these series of posts about the Chinese traditions, Li!

I'm a cheeky monkey myself! ;)

cabin + cub said...

I can't wait until the New Year this weekend! We are going to try and catch the lion dances and Chinatown parade! ;)

Kathy said...

Never knew that! Thanks.

Jess // CLineCreations said...

Haha so funny, I totally heard a different version of the story growing up.. in the one I remember, there was a last river that the animals had to cross before reaching the finish. So the rat and the cat (who was in the race), asked the ox if they could ride on his back since he was big and strong, and the ox agreed. Halfway across the rat pushed the cat off (which is why they are enemies in this version), and as they reached the other side, the rat jumped over the ox's head and became the first animal.

So funny how the stories change over time depending on who's telling them! =)

Napivo said...

Years ago I was so disappointed being (born in 1972) my sign was Water Rat.

Now I am happy to be born under this sign I have dragons, ox and Serpents as friends. Some of them Fire signs so things can sometimes really heat up but I have yet to be scorched.

To be a rat really is a blessing in life.