The adaptation of the Chinese calendar is accredited to the Emperor Hunag Di in the year 2637 B.C. which is follows the cycles of the moon – lunar cycle.
Using this system it give rise to the Chinese Zodiac to have the sign of twelve animals. The definite date is not certain, but it is known that it appeared during Zhan Guo period that is in the 5th century B.C.
This was officially used during the Han Dynasty that us between 204 B.C to 9 A.D. to avoid being impolite to enquire a person’s age it is used to determine a person’s birth year.
This is done after careful observation of human behavior, it was found that human behavior can be group into twelve’s distinct group and the character is found to be similar to the twelve animals therefore was matched up to the twelve year cycle. – The rat, the ox, the tiger, the rabbit, the dragon, the snake, the horse, the sheep, the monkey, the rooster.
The characteristics and traits of these animals are said to influence the personality and fate of everything and everyone born in that year.
This was officially used during the Han Dynasty between 204 B.C to 9 A.D. It is used to determine a person’s birth year, for it is impolite to enquire a person’s age.
The Order of the Animals
One of the most widespread legends about Chinese zodiac. The Jade Emperor (The Emperor in Heaven) ordered that animals would be designated as calendar signs and the twelve that arrived first would be selected.
At that time, the cat and the rat were good friends and neighbors. When they heard of this news, the cat said to the rat: 'We should arrive early to sign up, but I usually get up late.' The rat then promised to awaken his friend and go together. However, on the morning when he got up, he was too excited to recall his promise, and went directly to the gathering place. On the way, he encountered the tiger, ox, horse, and other animals that ran much faster. In order not to fall behind them, he thought up a good idea. He made the straightforward ox carry him on condition that he sang for the ox. At last, the ox and him arrived first. The ox was happy thinking that he would be the first sign of the years, but the rat had already slid in front, and became the first lucky animal of the Chinese zodiac. Meanwhile his neighbor the cat was too late so when it finally arrived, the selection was over. That's why other animals appear behind the little rat and why the cat hates the rat so much that every time they meet, the cat will chase and kill it.
Another is “ Long ago, in China, the Jade Emperor decided there should be a way of measuring time. On his birthday he told the animals that there was to be a swimming race. The first twelve animals across the fast flowing river would be the winners and they would each have a year of the zodiac named after them.
All the animals lined up along the riverbank. The rat and the cat, they were good friends, were worried because they were poor swimmers. Being clever they asked the strong ox if he would carry them across the river.
'Of course' said the kind ox. 'Just climb on my back and I will take you across.'
The rat and the cat quickly jumped up and were very excited when the ox soon took the lead in the race. They had almost reached the other bank when the rat pushed the cat into the river leaving him to struggle in the water. Then just before the ox was about to win the race the rat leapt on his head and on to the bank to finish first.
'Well done,' said the Jade Emperor to the proud rat. 'The first year of the zodiac will be named after you.'
The poor ox had been tricked into second place and the second year of the zodiac was named after him.
Shortly after the exhausted tiger clawed his way to the riverbank to claim third place. Swimming across the river had been an enormous struggle for him against the strong currents. The Emperor was so delighted with his efforts that he named the third year after him.
Next to arrive was the rabbit, who hadn't swum across at all. He hopped across on some stepping-stones and then found a floating log, which carried him to the shore.
'I shall be very happy to call the fourth year after you,' the surprised Jade Emperor explained.
Just then a kind dragon swooped down to take fifth place.
'Why didn’t you win the race, as you can fly as well as swim?' the Jade Emperor asked.
'I was held up because some people and animals needed water to drink. I needed to make some rain,' the dragon explained. 'Then when I was nearly here I saw a poor little rabbit on a log in the water and I blew a puff of wind so that the log would float to the river bank.'
'Well that was very kind of you and now you are here you will have the fifth year of the zodiac named after you.'
The next thing the Jade Emperor heard was the sound of the horse’s hooves. Just as he was thinking the horse would be the next animal to arrive, a sneaky snake wriggled out from around one of the horse’s hooves. The horse was so surprised that he jumped backwards giving the snake a chance to take the sixth place in the race. The poor horse had to be satisfied with seventh place.
Not long afterwards a raft arrived carrying the goat, the monkey and the rooster. They explained to the Emperor how they had shared the raft that the rooster had found. The goat and monkey had cleared weeds and pushed the raft to the shore. The Emperor was very pleased that the animals had worked together. He said the goat would be the eighth zodiac animal, the monkey the ninth and the rooster the tenth.
The next animal to finish was the dog.
'Why are you so late when you are one of the best swimmers?' asked the Jade Emperor.
'The water in the river was so clean that I had to have a bath on the way,' explained the dog.
His reward was to have the eleventh year named after him.
Now there was one place left in the zodiac and the Emperor wondered when the last winner would come. He had nearly given up when he heard a grunt from the boar.
'You took a long time to cross the river,' said the Emperor to the boar.
'I was hungry and stopped to eat,' explained the boar. 'After the meal I felt so tired that I fell asleep.'
'You have still done well,' said the Jade Emperor. 'The last year of the zodiac will be named after you.'
As for the cat who had been pushed into the water by the rat, he finally crawled out of the water but was too late to have a year named after him. He felt very cross with the rat and since then cats have never been friends with rats.
From that day to this the Chinese Zodiac has followed this cycle of years named after these twelve animals
Yet another as to why the Rat come in the First Place?
In Chinese mythology about the origin of world, the universe was in dark without form like an egg before the earth and heaven was separated. It was the rat that bit a crack and let the air in. He was the hero to start the world. That was to say the importance of him. Another saying goes along with the toes story mentioned above. His forepaws have four toes and hind paws have five toes, with both odd and even numbers. For such a special creature among the twelve animals, rat won the first place.
Another story was, Buddha called together all the animals to help guard and protect the year. Of all the animals, only twelve answered the call. In order to establish an orderly sequence, a race was called. In the race, the Ox would have taken the honor of taking first place had it not been for the clever and cunning Rat who rode on the back of the Ox and jumped forward at the finish line to steal away the top award.
Another version of the event was “ The Tournament of the Twelve Animals.”
“ The Jade Emperor wanted to select twelve animals to represent the different years as totems. Hearing this, all the animals on earth rushed to the call with each desiring to be selected. Finding no suitable method on which to base his selection, the Jade Emperor decided to have a tournament of physical skills and abilities.
The Jade Emperor appointed the Elephant to be the undisputed judge of this tournament. The elephant was known for his calmness, great moral virtue and conduct. His judgment was principled and fair and because of this he is highly respected by all the animals.
When this tournament and its rules were announced, the Cat heard about it and went to tell this to the Rat. In earlier times, both the Cat and the Rat were very close friends. The Cat told the Rat that he was eligible to compete because being an animal was the only necessary qualification. When the Rat arrived, he saw that there was already a mighty strong brown Ox poised on the tournament platform welcoming all challengers.
The brown Ox was both large in size and extremely mighty. He thought little of having the tiny Rat as his opponent. He was over confident as he stood boldly on the tournament platform. Readying himself for the battle, the Ox raised his front legs and pawed and scratched on the ground as he was prepared to stomp on the Rat and flatten him into a small meat patty. However, the Rat was light in weight and quick and agile in movement so that he was successful in sidestepping the charging Ox. The Rat jumped onto his feet and catapulted himself onto the back of the Ox. The Ox was helpless to this attack and the pain inflicted caused him to scream out with an admission of defeat. The judge had no alternative than to award the Rat with the coveted First prize. The Ox was embarrassed and speechless to have lost to the Rat.
The rest of the animals battled one another, and this is how the ranking of the twelve animals came to be: (1)Rat, (2)Ox, (3)Tiger, (4)Hare, (5)Dragon, (6)Snake, (7)Horse, (8)Ram, (9)Monkey, (10)Rooster, (11)Dog, (12)Boar.
This is the Horse year. The several traits of the Horse are noted and accredited to those who are born in the Horse year.
Chinese like Horses for many reasons. Horse provides a good and quick transportation for people before automobiles. Horse can give people a ride to their destination. Therefore, horse is not only a symbol of traveling, but also a sign of speedy success.
Horses like to compete with others. They pursuit for their freedom, passion and leadership. Therefore, people will have busy schedule for their goal in the year of Horse. In Chinese Five Element Horoscope, Horse is connected to fire, red and heat. Also, horse is a social animal and red is also connected to love, therefore. Horse is treated as a Romantic Star in Chinese Horoscope.
Horse is intelligent animal. Horses need to be trained to become useful to human. Human can make Horse famous. Without human's guide, Horse just a wild animal. It doesn't know where to go. There is no destination in its life.
The two most famous horses in Chinese history are The Red Hare Horse (赤兔馬), and Longma ( 龍 馬)
It crosses rivers and climbs mountains as though it is moving on flat land,
And it is of uniform ashen red, with not a hair of another color; it measures one Zhang from head to tail and eight Chi from hoof to head; it neighs as if it has the ambition of soaring into the sky or diving into the sea.
The Longma ( 龍 馬) is steed of the pious Hsüan-tsang, which carried the sacred scriptures from India.