on an ancient agricultural calendar, the system
is based on the influences of the different forces.
Although the exact origins remain a mystery, legends
abound on how it came to be.
has it that on one of his birthdays, Yuhuang Dadi
(the Jade Emperor of Heaven) invited all the animals
on earth and heaven to join in the celebrations.
But only 12 turned up and the party animals were
Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse,
Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig.
their effort, the Emperor honoured each animal
with a year of its own. It was also decreed that
henceforth, those born in the year of the animal
would assume the nature and characteristics of
that animal influenced by the different elements.
if you are wondering why Rat became the first
animal in the zodiac? Well, Ox was in fact first
but Rat, clever animal that it was, laid a bet
with Ox. Sitting on Ox's head, Rat said "Let
us take a walk around these heavenly grounds and
see who will emerge as the 'big' animal."
what a big, awful-looking rat," screamed
one of the fairies and shook her head in disgust.
I told you. Even fairies think I am 'big'!"
declared Rat to Ox.
arguments there and the tolerant Ox conceded.
why is there no cat in the line-up? Well, in those
heavenly days, Cat and Rat were good friends.
They both received the invitation to the birthday
party but Cat was lazy and decided to ask Rat
to reserve a place for him, while he stole a couple
more hours of sleep.
problem," said Rat and off he went.
Heaven, Rat got into a game with Ox and duly forgot
his promise to Cat. When he returned, triumphant,
Cat woke up to the rude reality that he was forgotten.
Cat, of course, never forgave Rat. By the way,
that's also why cats always catch rats.