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October 24, 2009

Origin of Chinese Zodiac

In ancient times, our ancestors counted the years with 10 celestial stems and 12 terrestrial branches. Although this was scientific, most people were illiterate and could not memorize or calculate easily. Thus the animals that influenced people's lives were chosen to symbolize the terrestrial branches: the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig.

Legend has it that one day the gods ordered that animals be designated as the signs of each year with the twelve who arrived first selected. At that time, the cat and mouse were good friends and neighbors. When they heard of this news, the cat said to mouse: 'We should arrive early to sign up, but I usually get up late.' The mouse then promised to awaken his friend and to 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, the mouse 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. The ox and mouse arrived first. The ox was happy thinking that he would be the first sign of the years, but the mouse had already slid in front, and became the first lucky animal of the Chinese zodiac. Meanwhile his neighbor the cat was too late; when it finally arrived, the selections were over. That's why other animals appear behind the little mouse and why the cat hates mice so much that every time they meet, the cat will chase and kill the mouse.

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