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Chinese Zodiac

2011-06-02 14:50 http://www.chinesestoryonline.com ChineseTime

     Chinese Zodiac

        Long long time ago, the Jade Emperor (the Emperor of Heaven in China folklore) was going to elect twelve animals to represent the twelve calendar years. So he invited all animals to participate in a swimming race. The first 12 animals to cross the river would appear on the Chinese Zodiac calendar in the order in which they completed the race.

       At that time, the Cat and the Rat were the best of friends. They accompanied each other no matter where they went. Hearing this news, the two friends got very excited, for both of them want a coveted position on the calendar. But soon their excitement faded, and they began to worry about their poor swimming skill. After thinking for a while, they decided to ask the Ox for some help. The Rat and Cat explained to the Ox their problem and asked him if he would be so kind as to let them ride on his back. The Ox, having a kind nature, agreed without the slightest hesitation and promised to let them sit on his back in the race.

      Happy with the Ox's promise, the Cat decide to take a nap so that he could be at his best point. He asked his friend: "Could you please wake me up when it's time for the race?"

       "Sure. Just have a good nap. I will wake you up when the time comes." the Rat replied. But the position on the calendar was like a carrot dangling in front of the Rat to entice him into betraying his best friend. So when the time came, he went alone and left the Cat sleeping deeply.

         In the race, the Ox, as the best swimmer, soon took the lead. Just before the Ox was about to reach the other bank, the sly Rat leaped on his head and on to the bank to finish first.

         The Jade Emperor was very pleased and told the Rat that the first year of the Zodiac would be named after him. Of course, the naive Ox had been tricked into second place and the second year of the zodiac was named after him.

        Then the tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and pig finished their race successively and find their own position on the calendar. 

        As to the poor Cat, he did not wake up until the magpie chattered the result of the race over his head. When the Cat found out what the Rat had done, he was furious. The two became worst enemies. This is the reason why cats are not one of the twelve animals and they love to chase after rats.

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