Chinese Zodiac Story

In Chinese zodiac history, there are many legends and mythology related to Chinese zodiac and there are various versions and stories popular in different regions. Why were there twelve animals in the zodiac calendar and how did the Chinese zodiac order form? Here are the most well-know stories, as an important part of Chinese zodiacal culture.

The Great Race Story of the Chinese Zodiac

This is the most widespread Chinese zodiac legend. The Jade Emperor (The Emperor in Heaven in Chinese folklore) ordered that animals would be designated as calendar signs and the twelve that arrived first would be selected. On that day, the rat got up very early and very early and rushed to the gathering site. On the way, he encountered the ox that ran much faster.

In order not to fall behind, he thought up a good idea. He made the straightforward ox carry him on condition that he sang for the ox. At last, the ox and rat arrived first. The ox was happy thinking that he would be the first sign of the years, but the rat had already slid in front, and became the first lucky animal of the Chinese zodiac. That's how did the rat win the race.

Then what is the 12 animals of Chinese zodiac in order? Following Rat, Ox, are Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, Pig.

About this simple story, there are different editions. Some say it was the Yellow Emperor who intended to select twelve guards. It is also said that cat hope rat could get there early and sign up on behalf, but rat completely forgot it or do that intentionally. Some say the animals were request to have a swimming race, or a simple race. Elephant was said to participate in Chinese zodiac race too, but run away finally because rat got into it trunk.

Chinese Zodiac Story of Cat

At that time, the cat and the rat were good friends and neighbors. When they heard of the news that the Jade Emperor were selecting zodiac animals, the cat said to the rat: 'We should arrive early to sign up, but I usually get up late.' The rat then promised to awaken his friend and go together. However, on the morning when he got up, he was too excited to recall his promise, and went directly to the gathering place. When the cat finally arrived, the selection was over. That’s why the cat hates the rat so much that every time they meet, the cat will chase and kill it.

Why is the Rat First in the Chinese Zodiac? 

Beside the tricks that rat played in  the great race story of the Chinese zodiac, there are other legends about its priority in those animals. In Chinese mythology about the origin of world, the universe was in dark without form like an egg before the earth and heaven was separated. It was the rat that bit a crack and let the air in. He was the hero to start the world. That was to say the importance of him. Another saying goes that his forepaws have four toes and hindpaws have five toes, with both odd and even numbers. For such a special creature among the twelve animals, rat won the first place.

Legends seem to be strained interpretations because the original intention had been lost over such a long history. Chinese zodiac was related to the Yin Yang, Five Elements theories and other traditional life concepts. Thus it promoted the development of Chinese zodiacal culture. After having fun of reading these stories, we still have to know some facts: it is reliable to believe the zodiac animals started for worship of animals in old times and twelve most important animals in ancient people’s life in was selected to vividly represent the Twelve Earthly Branches (the duodecimal cycle in Chinese calendar). Cat was absent in the name list because there was no cat  in China very long time ago.

Now, use the zodiac calculator to search for your animal sign.

 Further Reading:
 Zodiac Love Compatibility

 Ben Ming Nian (Zodiac Year of Birth)

 Chinese Zodiac Time

 Chinese Zodiac Years Chart

 Tai Sui

- Last updated on Apr. 08, 2022 -
Questions & Answers on Chinese Zodiac Story
Asked by Amy from MALAYSIA | Mar. 23, 2020 05:45Reply
What is my lucky month and numbers? I am born 17 may 1981
Answers (2)
Answered by Eunice from DENMARK | Mar. 23, 2020 22:49

You are born with Chinese zodiac Rooster sign. No.5, 7, 8 can bring you some good luck.
Answered by MALIK | Apr. 08, 2022 19:47

Yours is a ROOSTER
Asked by Dragongirl from USA | Dec. 31, 2019 12:02Reply
I am a Dragon born in 1988, will 2020 bring abundance and good fortune to my family?
And what is the fortune for Dragon this year?
Answers (1)
Answered by Jayce from FINLAND | Jan. 01, 2020 23:09

The overall situation will be still good in 2020. Generally speaking, the family relationship will be harmonious and relaxed. You can also make some breakthroughs in career and wealth.
Asked by Yolanda from PHILIPPINES | Mar. 20, 2019 02:22Reply
I'm a pig born on June 25, 1959. Will i become a wealthy mother of 3 this year?
Answers (1)
Answered by Jesse from NEW ZEALAND | Mar. 20, 2019 18:07

Hi, according to the prediction, it may be hard for you to become a very healthy mother this year since your fortune in the year of Pig is plain. Most aspects may enter into a stable stage, which also means there won't be a lot of problems appearing in your life. Good luck.
Asked by Mei from PHILIPPINES | Oct. 28, 2018 20:41Reply
Pls. Give me lucky dates to open a lending business. Im a female rat born dec. 7, 1972.
My business partner born on aug. 8, 1972. ARE we compatible?. Thanks
Answers (1)
Answered by Nicholas from BELGIUM | Oct. 28, 2018 23:57

Nov. 13, 18, 19, 30 are all good days for you to open a business and yes, you may be compatible. However, you still need to be more careful when you choose business partners.
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