The Chinese Zodiac Story and How It Came Into Existence

Chinese Zodiac calendar is different from the rest of the world. In most of the countries, the English calendar is followed, even in India. However, in Hinduism, a new year starts with the Deepavali festival, and one year is considered from Deepavali to Deepavali. The same way a Chinese Zodiac calendar starts from mid of January to February, based on the Moon’s rotation, and ends around the same time next year. This way, every new year happens to be on a different date. According to Chinese Mythology, which is either in oral form or recorded in Chinese literature, the calendar was said to be created by one of the ministers of Emperor Huang Ti named Tao Nao. The Chinese Zodiac Calendar is being followed since 4000 B.C. It follows 12 temperaments in 12 animals. The Chinese Zodiac animals are Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig. These mythological animals are said to influence the native’s temperament, characteristics, and behaviour. Each animal represents a year, and after 12 years, the cycle restarts with the first Zodiac animal. These Zodiac animals are associated with five elements Wood, earth, water, metal, and fire. Thus, each year has to have a Zodiac Animal and an element that is said to be a fixed element of the Zodiac animal. For example, the Year 2020 was the year of Rat, and Rat’s fixed element is water, so 2020 was a year of Water Rat.

What Is The Story Behind The Chinese Zodiac?

Well, as we all know, there is a reason behind everything. So there are certain folktales, as described in Chinese legends, which point out some of the facts and fiction behind the rise of these Zodiac animal signs. Each culture follows some methods of astrology which are said to be the base of these Zodiac animals. There are 12 Zodiac animal signs which are also the fundamentals of Indian astrology. As per Chinese astrology, the Chinese Zodiac animals are entirely different from that of India. As depicted in Chinese legends, one story is about the Chinese Emperor Jade, ruler of the heavens. And the story goes like this. The Chinese Emperor Jade invited all the animals to participate in the race organized on his birthday, which was on the ninth day of the first Lunar month. The first few animals were to be given the chance of being part of the Chinese Zodiac animals.

Why The Cat Isn't In The Chinese Zodiac Story?

In a Chinese folktale, when rats and cats were neighbours, the cat used to bully the weak rat. Their relation was not so good. When they come to know about Emperor Jade’s announcement about the race, they both decided to participate. The cat being lazy and sleepy, planned to go with the rat for the occasion. The cat requested the rat to wake him up in the morning just before the race, and the rat agreed to it. However, the next day the rat did not keep his promise and went ahead with the race alone, leaving the cat behind. And that’s how the cat missed the opportunity.

Chinese Zodiac Story: What Zodiac Came First?

The first Zodiac animal is Rat. However. The rat is a not-so-liked animal because it is dirty, nasty, spreading indignation, and tricky. So what could be the reason for the rat availing the first place in the race of Chinese Zodiac animals?

There are a few stories about these animals. Let us tell you about the Rat’s stories.

Rat – In Chinese legend, long ago, when Nu Wa created humankind and returned to the heavens, she received an order to repair the hole in the sky by any means. She used four legs of turtle earth which resulted in earthquakes, landslides, floods, and brought all the disasters on the planet. Seeing all this, the Emperor of Heaven ordered the Water God to stop the flood, but he could not do it alone and needed someone for help. Yu was worried and noticed that despite all this mishappening, a rat was fleeing and was pleased. He found Rat the most worthy animal to help other animals and human beings hidden in different unknown places in the mountain, which the rat did. Therefore, because of the rat humans, and animals both together could stop the flood.

Another story goes like this:

A night before the event organized by the Chinese Emperor Jade, The Rat hid in the horn of Ox, which is considered to be the fastest animal, and jumped right at the top place in the event. So he got first place in the Zodiac Animal race.

And here’s another one:

Ox was the second animal in the race. Ox was Jade Emperor’s servant, a very Hardworking and honest animal. He used to travel between earth and heavens frequently. One day a farmer requested the Ox to send the message that the planet needs seeds to make the world a more fertile and beautiful place to live in. When emperor Jade sent the seeds, the Ox messed everything up and could not finish his job properly. Then god punished him to serve the farmers for his entire life and graze earth’s grass. So the Ox served the farmers their whole life and ate the grass. Ox being a hardworking, diligent, and honest animal, won the hearts of all the men on the earth, and they chose it to be the first animal, but then the rat hid in his horn and took first place.

Chinese Zodiac Story: 12 Chinese Zodiac Animals

A Chinese legend says, when the Jade Emperor, the superior God, invited all the animals to take part in the auspicious race which was held on his birthday, these 12 animals were able to cross the river and complete the race. However, all other animals were either late for the race or could not participate due to some or other reason.

Chinese Zodiac Story: Who Invented The Chinese Zodiac?

Though there is no proof of the stories being true, there are many Chinese versions of the origin of Chinese Zodiac Animals. But the one very famous story is about the Jade Emperor, the ruler of heavens who had organized a race on his birthday and invited all the animals to take part in the race and become part of the auspicious zodiac sign of the Chinese calendar. However, there are many folktales about the 12 mythological animals.

Ending thoughts on Chinese Zodiac Story

Though there are many stories about the evolution of Chinese Zodiac Signs consisting of 12 animals, known to be mythological animals, no one can actually claim them to be true. It is just a matter of belief like we follow certain rituals, rules, traditions as per our culture. So let us not think scientifically about the legends and accept them how they are. That’s it from our end, hope you understood about the Chinese Zodiac Story.

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