The story of why these 12 animals represent the zodiac dates back to Jade Emperor and his plan to have each calendar year be symbolized by an animal. To determine which animals, Jade Emperor invited them to a party and would see the order each animal reached him.
To reach Jade Emperor’s party, the animals would have to cross a river in what is known as The Great Race.
Despite being bad at swimming, the Cat and Rat were both intelligent and decided that the best and fastest way to cross the river was to jump on the back of the Ox.
The Ox being known for its qualities of kindheartedness and naiveté, carried them both across the river.
Just as the Ox was about to the reach the other side of the river, the Rat pushed the Cat into the water and raced ahead of the tired Ox to finish the race and reach Jade Emperor first.
And that is why the Rat was named the first animal of the zodiac calendar.
What other animals make up the zodiac calendar?
Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, Pig (in the order in which they crossed the river).
The Chinese Lunar Calendar matches up with the above sequence with a recurring cycle of 12 years.
The Rat rings in the Chinese New Year for the year 2020. Other Years of the Rat include: 1912, 1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, and 2008.
Those who are born in the Year of the Rat are known to have a quick-witted, resourceful, versatile, and kind personality trait.
Why is the Zodiac important to the Chinese?
Some of the information in this blog was used from: