The Race for the Chinese Zodiac
4 mins read

The Race for the Chinese Zodiac

Once upon a time, in ancient China, the Jade Emperor decided it was time to create a calendar to help people keep track of time. He called together all the animals in the kingdom and announced, “We will have a great race! The first twelve animals to cross the river and reach my palace will have a year named after them in the new calendar.”


All the animals were excited and started preparing for the big day. On the morning of the race, they gathered at the riverbank, eager to begin. Among them were the strong Ox, the quick Rabbit, the cunning Rat, the brave Tiger, and many more.


When the Jade Emperor gave the signal, the animals leaped into action. The river was wide and the current was strong, but each animal had its own way of crossing it. The Ox, being strong and steady, took the lead, ploughing through the water with determination. Unknown to the Ox, the clever Rat had hatched a plan. Knowing it couldn’t swim well, the Rat had asked the Ox for a ride across the river, promising to guide it to the other side. The Ox agreed, and the Rat climbed onto its back.


As they neared the opposite shore, the Rat saw the Jade Emperor’s palace in the distance. With a quick leap, it jumped off the Ox’s back and dashed to the finish line, becoming the first animal to complete the race. The Ox, slightly surprised but not upset, followed closely behind, earning the second spot.


Next came the powerful Tiger, who had fought the strong currents with all its might. It arrived in third place, panting but proud. Not far behind was the agile Rabbit, who had cleverly hopped from stone to stone, crossing the river without getting too wet. The Rabbit secured the fourth position.


The Dragon, a magnificent creature, came in fifth. Despite its ability to fly, the Dragon had stopped to help some villagers put out a fire, showing its kind heart. The Jade Emperor was very pleased with the Dragon’s noble deed.


In sixth place came the Snake, who had hidden in the Horse’s mane during the race. As the Horse galloped towards the finish line, the Snake slithered out and startled it, sneaking ahead to claim the sixth spot. The Horse, regaining its composure, took seventh place.


The Goat, Monkey, and Rooster had worked together to build a raft. With teamwork and persistence, they crossed the river and arrived at the palace together. The Goat took the eighth position, the Monkey the ninth, and the Rooster the tenth.


Next, the playful Dog, who had been too busy enjoying the water to rush, finally arrived in eleventh place. Despite its late arrival, the Dog was cheerful and wagged its tail happily.


The last spot was taken by the Pig, who had stopped for a snack and a nap during the race. Though it was the slowest, the Pig still managed to finish the race and secure the twelfth position in the calendar.


The Jade Emperor was delighted with the race and announced, “These twelve animals will each represent a year in the new calendar, in the order they finished the race. From now on, people will celebrate and honour these animals every year.”



And so, the twelve animals of the Chinese Zodiac were chosen, each with its own unique story and qualities, reminding everyone of the great race that determined the order of the years.


Folktales and Superstitions are more than just stories; they are a treasure trove of cultural heritage, brimming with timeless wisdom, and moral lessons that have been passed down through generations. These tales offer a fascinating glimpse into the rich tapestry of culture, reflecting its values, beliefs, and traditions.

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