Chinese Zodiac

A red background shows a gold 2013 in the shape of a snake, wishing those who see it a happy new year.Continuing on our previous post about Chinese New Year’s celebrations, I also asked our student employee, Olivia, if she could explain a little bit about the Chinese Zodiac for us. Here’s what she had to say:

Each Chinese New Year is associated with one of the twelve animals in the Chinese Zodiac – Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, Pig – with each passing year cycling through the twelve. So this year will be the Year of the Snake, the next will be the Year of the Horse and following year, 2015, will be the Year of the Goat or Ram.

There are many variations to the folklore story behind the origins of the animals of the zodiac but generally the tale begins with the Jade Emperor summoning all the animals of the universe for a race to decide the order of the zodiac. As the race began, the ox was the animal leading the pack but the rat had jumped and hitched a ride on its back and claimed first place as the ox approached the finish line. The tiger and rabbit followed next and claimed 3rd and 4th place respectively. Surprisingly the dragon arrived in 5th place but it was explained that he had to stop and help the people and creatures of the Earth, hence his tardiness. The horse was the next to arrive but hidden on his hoof was the snake whose sudden appearance frightened the horse making it fall back to 7th place while the snake took the 6th. The goat, monkey and rooster had worked cooperatively to reach the finish line and the Emperor was so pleased, he named the goat the 8th animal, the monkey the 9th and the rooster the 10th. The dog was the 11th animal to finish as it had stopped to take a bath in a river and finally the pig was the last animal to be named as it had gotten hungry during the race and had stopped to eat.

It is very widely believed that individuals possess the particular characteristics of the animal of the year they were born in and that an individual is more lucky if the Chinese New Year animal corresponded with their birth animal.

~ Olivia, Student Assistant

I find this so interesting. I, myself, was born in the year of the tiger (1974) and I will have to admit that even before I found this out, I had decided that my favourite animal in the world was the tiger. I even adopted one through the World Wildlife Foundation at one time.

How about you? What year were you born in?

~ Kelly, Library Media Specialist

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