The shēng xiào means “birth likeness” or “born resembling,” is also known in English as the Chinese zodiac. The Chinese Zodiac is a repeating cycle of 12 years, with each year being represented by an animal and its attributes. Traditionally, these zodiac animals were used to date the years. It is popular in several East Asian countries including Taiwan, China, Vietnam, Japan, and many more.
The 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac in order are Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig. The animals are in a fixed order according to the Yin and Yang. The Yin and Yang alternate between the odd and even number of their claws in alternating. The strong Yang attribute comes first then balancing the Yin attribute. Each animal has symbolic meanings given to it by the ancient Chinese.
Rat= wisdom Ox=industriousness Tiger= valor
Rabbit= caution Dragon= strength Snake= flexibility
Horse= forging ahead Sheep= unity Monkey= changeability
Rooster= being constant Dog= fidelity Pig= amiability
In the ancient times, human knowledge was limited, they could not distinguish the date. Thus, the Jade Emperor requested mankind to come up with twelve animals to represent each year, so it would be easier for people to remember. So the Jade Emperor decided to have a competition on his birthday to determine the first twelve animals.
After the news spread, all of animals were eager to get a place in the twelve zodiac years. The little rat and the little kitty were best friends but they were so small and could not swim. They begged the Ox to give them a ride and he kindly agreed.
The morning of Jade Emperor’s birthday, the little rat tried to wake the little kitty but the little kitty did not wake up. The Ox told the little rat not to worry about him because they were going to be late. Just when they reached the finish line, all the Ox could think about was first place, so the Ox used his horn and threw the little rat toward the back of the line. However, the little rat fell on the bamboo and bounced to the finish line and won first place.
The Ox got second place and the Tiger got third place. The Rabbit helped other animals get across the river, then quickly bounced in front of the Jade Emperor, and got fourth place. The Dragon had a meeting to go to so, he missed the first place and only routed to the fifth. Then, the order was the snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog, with the pig coming in last place.
Jade Emperor solemnly declared: “Zodiac competition results are: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, chicken ……” The little cat rushes there and said, “how about me? How about me? What place am I?”
Jade Emperor told the little cat that he was too late, the competition was over. The little kitty got extremely angry at the little rat that he did not wake him up. The little kitty extended his claws and tried to catch the little rat. Although, the little rat won the first place in the Chinese zodiac, he lost his best friend and since then the little rat lived in fear that the little kitty would find it’s revenge. That’s why the little rat always hid in the ceiling or in a hole to hide from the little kitty. The little rat lost his freedom.
Some believe that the little mouse deliberately not wake the little cat.
Find your Chinese zodiac
Rat:1936, 1948, 1969, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008
Ox: 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009
Tiger: 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010
Rabbit: 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011
Dragon: 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012
Snake: 1941, 1953 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013
Horse: 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014
Sheep: 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015
Monkey: 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016
Rooster: 1945, 1957, 1969,1981, 1993, 2005
Dog: 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006
Pig: 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007
Submitted by Xin Ru Pan