Just when you thought it was coming up to February and the new year, 2017, had settled in, along comes the Chinese New Year for another day of celebration. Being born in Hong Kong, I suppose it's lucky I get to celebrate the New Year twice. Twice the new beginnings, I'm cool with that. 

Anyway, this year is the year of the Rooster. In 2016 it was the year of the Monkey- my year to be exact due to being born in 1992. Next year, the year of the Dog. The Chinese Zodiac is made up of 12 animals. They are, Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and the Pig. Do you know which one you are? 

In this little post, I just wanted to tell you guys the story behind Chinese New Year. I mean, why Animals? Why that order? Where did this all come from? I remember learning the story as a kid and it all came down to a race. Yes, you heard me, a race. A more elaborate version of the tortoise and the hare. So with a morale to learn here, I'm just going to break it down. Enjoy. 

A long time ago in Ancient China, there was a Jade Emperor. He decided he wanted to find a way to measure time. So he decided, on the day of his Birthday, to summon the Animals in his Kingdom and announced there was to be a race. And in this race, each of these animals were to swim across a fast flowing river. The first 12 animals who crossed the finish line would be winner and would have a year of the zodiac dedicated to them in their honour. Thereafter, all the animals lined up along the river and prepared. 

Now, the Rat and the Cat were very good friends. They were concerned because they were not good swimmers, but being clever and quick witted, they asked the kind hearted and strong Ox if they would carry them across. Being the big hearted fellow he was, he gladly accepted. They jumped on his back and the race commenced. Crossing the river was easy for the Ox and soon, the Rat and Cat were exited to see him lead in first place. The Rat saw this as an opportunity and pushed his Cat friend off the Ox and left him to struggle in the flowing waters. Now, the Rat was still determined to win the race. So as the Ox rushed towards the river bank, the Rat hopped off from Ox's nose and dashed to the finish line. Therefore winning the race and claiming the first year of the Zodiac with the Ox coming in second place. (The tomfoolery!) The Tiger, struggled dearly as he crossed the river, but being the strong animal he was followed shortly after. The Jade Emperor was delighted and named the third year after him. 

The Rabbit, knew she couldn't swim across the river so she used her skills to her advantage and found stepping stones in which she hopped her way across until a log drifted by and helped her float the rest of the way. She claimed the fourth year. Now, if you didn't know already, there was a Dragon involved in this race. And yes, he can fly. So when he crossed after the Rabbit, the Jade Emperor questioned him. "How did you not win if you can fly?". The kind Dragon replied, "I needed to make the rain so that the animals and the people of this Kingdom can drink. I saw the little Rabbit as I was crossing and with a puff of wind, I blew the log her way so that she could cross to the bank". So the kind Dragon won fifth place.  (Is that folk talk for the nice one's don't win?). 

In the distance, the Jade Emperor heard the sound of hooves approaching. Just the Horse was about to finish the race, a snaked unwrapped herself from around the Horse's leg and slithered across the line, startling the Horse. He had to remain satisfied with claiming the seventh year for the snake crossed before him and became the sixth year of the Zodiac. A while had passed and along the shores, there came a raft. On the raft sat three animals, the Goat, the Monkey and the Rooster. They explained they had worked together to cross the river, sharing the raft as the Monkey and the Goat helped clear the weeds  and pushed their way to the shore. (Aweee, how nice). Therefore the Goat would be eighth, the Monkey, ninth and the Rooster, tenth. That only leaves two more spaces in the Chinese Zodiac. Who would come next? 

Wagging his tail in delight as he climbed up onto the bank, the Dog appeared. Being the best swimmer out of all the animals, the Jade Emperor asked, "Why are you so late, when you can swim so well". The Dog shook the water from his back and said, "The water of the river was just so clean and such a delight to be in, I just had to have a bath along the way". So the fun-loving Dog claimed eleventh place, leaving all the animals eagerly waiting. Who will take the final place and sit alongside them in the Zodiac? As time went by, the Jade Emperor heard a grunt approach the finish line. Finally in view, the Pig trotted by the Emperor and said, "I was very hungry and stopped to eat, I then fell so tired I fell asleep." Oh well, alas the Pig won the twelfth and final place of the race and became the last year of the Zodiac. The poor Cat finally managed to get himself across the river to only find it was too late and from this day on, the Cat and the Rat were no longer friends which passed down from generation to generation. 

I can't help but love this story but there you have it. This is why the Chinese Zodiac is in the order it is. I'm not sure if I want to live by the morals that are hinted in the background but I thoroughly enjoyed reliving a childhood memory to the time when I first heard this tale. I hope you guys enjoy it as much as I do! With that I wish everyone a Happy Chinese New Year, may your year be prosperous and enlightening, I will now commence into the kitchen were I shall attempt making dumplings. Which leaves me asking - What Chinese Zodiac are you? 

Alexis xoxo