Some may wonder why this year is the Year of the Rabbit, why each year is represented by an animal, and the story behind it all as Chinese New Year (or Lunar New Year) approaches.
The origin of the Chinese Zodiac is described in mythology. It is said that the Jade Emperor invited all of the world’s creatures to a race that he organised. Only twelve people showed up, so the Jade Emperor granted each of them a cycle of one year. The race would determine the placement of the participants.
Who won out of the 12 animals—a ox, a rabbit, a pig, a tiger, a snake, a rat, a monkey, a horse, a sheep, a rooster, a dog, and a dragon? As in the fable of the tortoise and the hare, one might expect the dragon, the tiger, or even the horse to cross the finish line first. However, as in the fable of the tortoise and the hare, the opposite is true. The rat won the race due to its intelligence and cunning.
A river was one of the final obstacles the animals had to overcome in the race. As the ox travelled through familiar territory, a weary rat who knew he could not cross the river without assistance convinced the ox to allow him to ride on his back. The ox agreed, but once they reached the other side, the rat leapt from the ox’s head and dashed to the finish line!
The remainder of the race continued with the tiger who could have easily won but was swept away by a river current. The dragon could have won as well, but the misunderstood mythical creature had stopped to help a nearby village. Upon returning to the race, he saw the rabbit struggling and blew it back on its way.
The horse and the snake followed. As the horse galloped toward the finish line, the snake frightened it long enough for him to finish the race first. In the meantime, the sheep, monkey, and rooster collaborated to build a raft to cross the river and completed the race in that order.
Regarding the final two animals, the dog and the pig, the dog was more distracted by the sounds of the river than by the task at hand, which was to complete the race. Eventually, he crossed the finish line but placed second-to-last. The pig, after eating a large meal, decided to take a nap (and who doesn’t enjoy a good nap?!). The pig was quite far behind when he awoke from his slumber; the Jade Emperor almost gave up on him, but he made it across and was placed last in the cycle.
Each animal possesses unique characteristics. What species are you? Do you recognise some characteristics of your Chinese Zodiac animal in yourself? If your birth year is not listed, add 12 years to it until it appears in the table below.
Chinese Year of the Animals
Rat (Born in 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008, 2020) (Born in 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008, 2020)
Those born in the Year of the Rat are said to be intelligent, charismatic, and quick-witted.
Ox (Born in 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009, 2021) (Born in 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009, 2021)
In addition to being kind and conservative, oxen are also generous and patient.
Tiger (Born in 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010, 2022) (Born in 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010, 2022)
Tigers are said to be courageous, intense, and adept at exercising authority.
Rabbit (Born in 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011, 2023) (Born in 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011, 2023)
People born under the sign of the rabbit are typically well-liked, compassionate, and sincere.
Dragon (Born in 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012) (Born in 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012)
Those with a dragon’s heart are reputed to be charismatic and fearless.
Snake (Born in 1965, 1977. 1989, 2001, 2013) (Born in 1965, 1977. 1989, 2001, 2013)
Snakes are reputed to be intelligent, charismatic, and generous, but also introverted.
Horse (Born in 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014) (Born in 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014)
People born in the year of the horse are typically attractive and enjoy travelling with boundless vigour.
Sheep (Born in 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015) (Born in 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015)
Born in a year of Sheep? These individuals tend to be reserved, charitable, and peace-loving.
Monkey (Born in 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016) (Born in 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016)
Know someone who is vivacious and entertaining? They most likely were born in the Year of the Monkey.
Rooster (Born in 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017) (Born in 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017)
The rooster is an independent, practical, and hardworking individual.
Dog (Born in 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018) (Born in 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018)
Were you born in the Dog’s Year? You likely possess traits of patience and perseverance. Additionally, you are likely to be faithful and kind.
Pig (Born in 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019) (Born in 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019)
Those born in a pig year are notoriously forthright. They enjoy a good meal and indulge in many pleasures, but they are also intelligent and affectionate.