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Chinese Zodiac Story

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The Chinese Zodiac, originated from the zoolatry in remote antiquity with 12 animals to represent the rotating 12 years as a cycle is a traditional calculation of the age of people. It is very popular in China, especially in the rural areas. You will find it so magic that your age will be worked out within seconds once you tell what animal year you were born into. It is also an easy way to get to know how many years older or younger you are than someone you are comparing with. 

The ranking of the twelve animals from the rat as the first and the pig as the last is well remembered by the Chinese people, but it has always been a mystery how these animals were chosen and how the rat won the first place in the ranking since the rat is not superior in size, in strength, in brevity, in power, in diligence, in wisdom, or in malevolence in comparison with other 11 animals respectively?

People looked into the folklore for explanation. One story goes like this.
At the beginning of the creation of the world, Jade Emperor in Chinese culture wanted to select 12 animals to be the guards of the celestial palace, a place where gods live. The news went round quickly. Many animals wanted to be enlisted. 

On hearing the news, the cat asked the rat to register for him because it could not go there for some reason, but the rat didn't. Maybe the rat forgot, or it didn't do it purposely in order to get more possibilities for itself. As a result, the cat missed the chance permanently. On this account, the cat hates the rat so much as to kill it once they meet.

The elephant also ran for the competition for the selection. On its way, it was driven away by the rat, who threatened to get into the long nose of the elephant for fear that the elephant will be chosen for its big size.

However hard the rat tried to stop others, still many animals and birds successfully attended the assembly organized by the Jade Emperor, who, without knowing what happened, selected 12 animals including the dragon, the tiger, the ox, the horse, the sheep, the monkey, the rooster, the dog, the pig, the rabbit, the snake, as well as the rat and ranked them.

The ox intended to be No. 1, but the rat jumped onto its back and looked taller. So the rat got the first place and the ox second.

The tiger and the dragon were not happy but they could do nothing but fought to be lined after the rat and the ox. 

The rabbit ran quickly and surpassed the dragon and became No. 4. The dragon, being No. 5, stayed reluctantly behind the rabbit.

The dog angrily barked and gave the rabbit a bite on the ear. As a punishment it was placed next to the last, the pig, whom the Jade Emperor least liked.

The snake, the horse, the sheep, the monkey, and the rooster all showed their uniqueness in the competition and got their positions accordingly.

Now that all the 12 animals got their places, they were matched to the terrestrial branches according to their peculiar characteristics of life.

The time passes quickly, but the folklore maintained through the ages until now with constant modifying according to the wishes of the people. It will penetrate into the future and remain as a wonderful part of the Chinese culture.

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