Legends of the 12 Chinese Zodiac SignsThe Chinese Lunar New Year is the longest chronological record in history, dating from 2600BC, when the Emperor Huang Ti introduced the first cycle of the zodiac.
The Chinese Lunar Calendar names each of the twelve years after an animal. The 12 Animals Signs are: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig.
12 Chinese Zodiac Signs Legend 1There are many legends about the picking of the twelve signs. One legend has it that the Lord Buddha summoned all the animals to come to him before he departed from earth. Only twelve came to bid him farewell and as a reward he named a year after each one in the order they arrived.
12 Chinese Zodiac Signs Legend 2According to another legend, many years ago Buddha summoned all the animals to a meeting in which he would designate the first 12 animals arriving, to be signs of a year respectively. On the night before the departure, cat notified his pal, rat, and they agreed that the one waking up first the next morning must awake the other so they can depart for the meeting together. However, rat broke his promise and arrived for the meeting alone. Then, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig arrived one after the other. When cat woke up and hurried there, the meeting was over. It is said that is the reason why the cat kills rats.
12 Chinese Zodiac Signs Legend 3According to another Chinese legend, the twelve animals quarreled one day as to who was to head the cycle of years. The gods were asked to decide and they held a contest: whoever was to reach the opposite bank of the river would be first, and the rest of the animals would receive their years according to their finish.
All the twelve animals gathered at the river bank and jumped in. Unknown to the ox, the rat had jumped upon his back. As the ox was about to jump ashore, the rat jumped off the ox's back, and won the race. The pig, who was very lazy, ended up last. That is why the rat is the first year of the animal cycle, the ox second, and the pig last.