Chinese Zodiac


Happy Chinese New Year! Accutone wishes everyone a healthy and prosperous year of the Monkey!

Speaking of the Monkey, most of us know that the Chinese assigns a different animal from the zodiac to each year in a 12-year cycle. Multiplied by the 5 elements (Metal, Wood, Water, Fire, Earth) deduced from calculating each year’s Heavenly Stem vs Earthly Branch, equals a 60-year grand cycle known as a JiaZi (甲子).

But why? Why these 12 animals, have you ever wondered?

First, let’s name them in the correct order, the Rat, the Ox, the Tiger, the Rabbit, the Dragon, the Snake, the Horse, the Goat, the Monkey, the Rooster, the Dog and the Pig.

Well, according to legends, during the Ancient times, man’s knowledge of measuring time is very limited, not even understanding the meaning of a year.

So to help them remember, the Jade Emperor hosted a competition for naming the Zodiac, using the name of the first 12 animals to reach the Heavenly Emperor’s birthday banquet across the Sky River.

The Cat has the best hearing for animals in all lands, it was he who first hear of this competition, and since he and the Rat were best friends, he invited the Rat to go along with him. However, to get to the Emperor's banquet, they will need to cross the rough waters of the Sky River, but both animals can't swim.

Since time is of essence, they went to the Ox for help, and he agreed under one condition: the Ox will be the first to cross the finish line. Seems fair, since the Ox will do most of the work, with the Cat and Rat catching a ride on his back, so they agreed.

However, on the day of the tournament, the Cat overslept. The devious Rat thought for a moment, and decided it will be to the best of his interest to not wake up his best friend, instead convinced the Ox to leave without the Cat.

So the two had a head start, leading the pack.

The Tiger, a relative of the Cat was also secretly notified, and being a fast runner on land and good swimmer in the river, he was catching up quickly.

The Rabbit, unable to swim, grabbed onto the Tiger's long hair and made it across the river, almost together.

The Dragon, unluckily was on duty that day, responsible for the rain in the country's southern region, flew back as soon as he's finished.

The Snake is slow on land but quick in water, while the Horse is completely opposite, both were right behind the pack.

The Monkey, was intelligent and good with his hands, build a small craft that carried the Goat, the Rooster, the Dog, the Pig and himself across the river.

The Ox and the Rat was the first to arrive at the finish line, but at the last moment, the Rat jumped over, finishing first. So, as usual, the Ox did all the hard work while the Rat takes all the credit. All the other animals finished accordingly, except for the Cat, one of the most popular animal, will never have a year name after him.

Well, believe it or not, THAT'S how the Chinese Zodiac was named, and perhaps the reason why cats will always chase rats.

(Photo Credit: Paul Narvaez)

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