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Chinese zodiac wheel with twelve. Vector hand drawn cartoon animals

The Chinese Zodiac

The Chinese Zodiac – June 25, 2021

The Zodiac in Chinese Culture

In Chinese culture, the Chinese zodiac plays an important role in daily life. From deciding travel schedules to more important matters like marriage and wedding ceremonies, the Chinese zodiac is often reffered to for good luck and fortune. In several Asian countries, the Chinese Zodiac goes beyond to just predicting luck and fortune, but is also referred to for matchmaking as it is believed to be capable of predicting prosperity and harmony of a future household. This culture is well-known and widely spread across Asia with several variations but, what’s the story behind the zodiac?

The Legend

Once upon a time, the emerald emperor, ruler of heaven, wanted to find a way to measure time. The emerald emperor thinks hard and decided to dedicate each year to an animal as a way to measure time. He held a race and announced that whichever animal reached the finish line would have a year dedicated to them. The road for the race stretched from the mountains to the forest until the last leg of the race where the animals must cross a river.

The mouse (属) asked for help to the kind Ox (牛) to cross the river, promising that they will reach the end of the race together. However just before they reaced the finish line, the mouse jumped ahead to the finish line securing first place leaving the Ox at second. The tiger (虎)followed and finished the race at third. Not long after, the rabbit (兔)finsihes at fourth. The dragon(龙)could have won first place but decided to help the other animals throughout the race. In the end, the dragon finishes the race at fifth place. The Snake (蛇)finsihed sixth and the horse(马)followed behind. The monkey, rooster and sheep worked together to cross the river. Once they did, they discussed the order of who should finish next. After discussing, they decided that the sheep (羊)shall finished at eight, the monkey (猴)at ninth and the rooster (鸡)at tenth. The dog (狗)could have finished much faster, but because he was distracted, he finished the race at eleventh. Similar with the dog, the pig (猪) went to sleep in the middle of the race and ended up finishing last. These 12 animals made up the Chinese zodiac that we know today, representing a 12-year cycle. The sequence goes based on the result of the race, which is mouse (属), ox (牛), tiger (虎), rabbit (兔), dragon (笼), snake (蛇), horse (马), goat (羊), monkey (猴), rooster (鸡), dog (狗), and pig (猪). 

In addition to the 12 animals, the 5 traditional elements is also added to this cycle. The elemets consist of fire (火), earth (地), metal (金), water (水), and wood (木). Each of the elements are chosen from nature and is related to the Chinese belief of Yin and Yang. Combining the 12 animals and 5 elements gives us a cycle that lasted 60 years. Because of this, the 60th birthday is largely celebrated with festivites throughout several Asian culture as it is a symbol of longevity and great health for being able to go through the full compelete cycle of 12 animals and 5 elements. 

Check your zodiac!

The year you are born  is represented by one of the 12 animals and one of the 5 elements. Check out the chart below to see which zodiac and which element the year you are born. Each animal and elements can give some insights to your character, predict your fortune and luck. Let us know in the comment below!

This article is published by the Pandanese team.

Pandanese is a SRS based learning system specifically made for Chinese Mandarin learning and much more. Visit Pandanese now!

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