The Chinese Zodiac was officially identified during the Han Dynasty (over 2000 years ago) but no one knows the exact date the zodiac was first created. The Chinese Zodiac consists of 12 animals, each animal attributed to one year. Therefore, you will encounter the same zodiac animal every 12 years.
There are different legends and stories behind the Chinese Zodiac and how the order of the animals was established.
I will tell you one of the most popular versions.
The Legend of The Chinese Zodiac
The legend says that the Jade Emperor was trying to find a way to create a time measurement system for the people. So he decided to create a 12 year segment and name each year after an animal. But how did he determine the order of the animals? On his birthday, the Jade Emperor decides to organize a race that will help him determine the order.
A Short Story
In those days the Cat and the Rat were very good friends and they planned to go and win the race together. During the race they were supposed to cross a river and because both of them are bad swimmers they decided to ask help from the Ox. The good-natured Ox takes them on his back and starts crossing the water. When they almost reached the other end of the river, the sneaky Rat pushes the Cat in the water, jumps of the Ox’s back and crossed the line taking the 1st spot on the Chinese Zodiac, being followed closely by the Ox who took 2nd place.
Next came the Tiger who explained to the Emperor that the current of the river slowed him down, but he still managed to cross and take the 3rd spot on the Chinese Zodiac.
Later on came the Rabbit who said that he jumped easily on a series of rocks across the river but almost fell off if it wasn’t for a floating log that happened to come along.
In the 5th place came the Dragon. The Emperor was very surprised as to why the Dragon didn’t come first, since he can fly. But the Dragon explained that he had to stop and give water to some villagers who were thirsty and also, he saw the Rabbit struggling so he created a gust of wind with his powerful wings to propel a floating log forward and help the desperate little fellow.
After the Dragon finished his story, they heard the galloping sound of a Horse. But before he could pass the finish line, the Snake suddenly appeared around his hoof, scaring the Horse away and taking the 6th spot. After he calmed down, the Horse crossed the line taking the 7th place.
Not long after, the Goat (Sheep), the Monkey and the Rooster arrived at the finish line and explained that they all worked together to cross the river. So the Emperor gave them the 8th, 9th and 10th place on the Chinese Zodiac.
The 11th position was given to the Dog. Although he was the best swimmer out of all the animals, he couldn’t resist taking a bath and playing in the river.
After a long wait and the Emperor almost closing the race, the Pig (Boar)shows up justifying that he got hungry during the race and stopped to eat. After food he was very tired so he took a nap resulting in him taking the last spot in the Chinese Zodiac.
The Cat reached the finish line long after all the spots were taken. It is said that this is why, even today, cats run after rats. For revenge!
If you don’t know your sign check put this table: