Chinese Lunar Animals - Introduction

by Tricia Morrissey, Apr 13, 2005 | Destinations: China / Beijing

The Chinese lunar calendar divides time into sets of twelve years, with each year named after a special animal. Listen to the story of how twelve lucky animals came to symbolize the twelve years of the Chinese lunar calendar.

One fine day, the Lord Buddha sent an announcement to all the animals. He would name one year of the calendar after each of the first twelve animals to set paw, horn or whisker in his court. Year after year, people would remember and celebrate these animals. They would cook feasts, they would pound drums, they would dance. However, only the first twelve to arrive would receive this splendid honor.

The race was on and the animals prepared for the journey to Buddha's court. The Rat and the Cat decided to go together. In spite of this friendly plan, the Rat crept away early in the morning. With no one to wake him, the Cat slept and slept. The sun shining in his eyes, he woke to find the Rat had left him behind.

The clever Rat knew the larger animals could travel quickly. So, still full of trickery, he convinced the Ox to carry him. The Rat rode on the Ox through fields and rivers. When they finally neared the court, the Rat jumped from the Ox's head and scampered to the Lord Buddha first.

The Ox arrived next, followed by the Tiger, the Rabbit, the Dragon, the Snake, the Horse, the Sheep, the Monkey, the Rooster, the Dog, and finally, the Boar. The sleepy Cat came too late and did not receive a year. Some say this is the reason cats have always chased rats.

Introduction | Rat | Ox | Tiger | Rabbit | Dragon | Snake | Horse | Sheep | Monkey | Rooster | Dog | Boar | Paper Cut Art | Next >>