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12 Chinese Zodiac Story

There are many versions of the legend about zodiac origin. But almost all of the sources can't be verified. Hereinafter will introduce the best well-known version of the great crossing race.

The Great Race

zodiac race

In the ancient times when human knowledge was limited, the calculation and separation of years and months were both unknown. The Jade Emperor, at the request of mankind, came up with an idea to use the names of twelve animals to make it easy for ordinary people to remember the years. But how to choose the animals and sort them? Through a deep consideration, the Jade Emperor decided to hold an animal crossing race on his birthday and take the first twelve animals as the zodiac to calculate years.

When the news got around, all the animals were riveted and eager to find a place in the twelve zodiac signs. Among them, the little mouse and cat also wanted to go to the meeting, but they were too small to swim, so they asked the ox who had a gentle temper and always got up early in the morning to give them a ride.

Early in the day of the Jade Emperor's birthday, the mouse went to the cat’s house. But the sleepy cat couldn’t be woken up, to save time, the ox told the mouse to ignore the cat and set out immediately. Just as they were almost there, the ox raced up with the thought of "getting the first". However, the mouse jumped in front of the ox and grabbed the first. The ox had to came in the second.

The tiger came to third with all wet. The rabbit crossed the river with the help of other animals and jumped up to the Jade Emperor and became the fourth animal in the zodiac cycle. The dragon who had just made a rain to help all the people and creatures of the earth because of responsibility rushed to the meeting, only got the fifth and missed the first.

Then the Horse appeared. Hidden on its hoof was the Snake, whose sudden appearance gave the horse a fright, thus making it fall back and giving the Snake the sixth spot, while the Horse placed seventh.

Soon later, the sheep, monkey and rooster came to the shore on a wooden raft. They helped each other on the way to the banquet, so the Emperor was very pleased and promptly named the sheep as the eighth creature, the Monkey as the ninth, and the Rooster the tenth.

The eleventh animal was the Dog. Although it was good at swimming, it wasted a long time playing in the river causing a delay to the finish line.

The last was the little Pig. It got hungry during the race, promptly stopped for a feast and then fell asleep. After the nap, it continued the race and was named the twelfth animal of the zodiac cycle.

Just as the Jade Emperor solemnly declared: "According to the results of the competition, the twelve zodiac rankings are: mouse, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster... ", the cat came to the meeting with a mess and cried:" what about me? Me? What number did I get?" The Jade Emperor told him that he came too late and the game was over. At this moment, the cat was so angry because he thought the mouse deceived him and didn't wake him intentionally. He held out his claw and caught the mouse. It is said that this is the reason why cats always chase rats.

Why No Cat in the 12 Chinese Zodiac Signs?


There are folk myths explain why there's no cat in the 12 zodiac animals with the saying of that the cat was tricked by the rat, so it could not go to the banquet. But the real reason is that there were no cats in China at that time. The origin country of cats was Egypt, it could not be verified when it was introduced to China. But before the cat was introduced to China, the Chinese zodiac had long been settled. Moreover, the tiger who was a big cat has already been in the zodiac, so the real little cat was off duty.