Monday, January 28, 2008
IF: Tales and Legends - The Story of the Chinese Zodiac 鼠年故事
The Story of the Chinese Zodiac
The Chinese zodiac has twelve signs, here's the story of why the year of the Rat is the first year in the cycle.
Once upon a time, the Emperor announced a contest, a race for all the animals. The first twelve animals to cross the finish line will have a year named in their honor.
At that time, Cat and Rat were best friends. When they heard about the great news, they agreed they should both enter the race. The day of the race arrived. All the animals gathered at the starting line and with a "BANG!" the race began.
With fantastic speed, Rat and Cat grabbed the lead, scurrying through prickly bushes and running over grassy meadows until they came upon a vast river. The current was so strong that they could not swim across. Just as they were thinking of what to do, the sturdy Ox came upon them. Immediately the Rat came up with a brilliant idea.
"Ox, since your eyesight is very poor, let's help each other. Cat and I will get on your back and direct you across the river." The Ox agreed with the plan. He was very strong and had no trouble swimming across the river.
As the party neared the other side, The Cat crouched on the Ox’s head and swished his tail. The Rat could see that his friend was getting ready to leap onto the bank ahead of them and take the first prize. Even though they were best friends, Rat wanted to be first more than ANYTHING in the world. Without hesitating, Rat pushed Cat off Ox into the fast moving river. Then he jumped off the ox's head and got through the finish line first.
Therefore, the Emperor declared the rat as the first zodiac animal, the tired Ox as second, followed by the Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and the sluggish Pig as the last.
This is why there is no year named after the Cat. And if you’ve ever wondered why cats hate rats so much - now you know!
Wishing all of you a very Happy and Prosperous Chinese New Year. Gong Xi Fa Cai!