Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Chinese Zodiac Animal Story

The Great Race >

Long ago, in China, the Jade Emperor decided there should be a way of measuring time.  On his birthday he told the animals that there was to be a swimming race.  The first twelve animals across the fast flowing river would be the winners and they would each have a year of the zodiac named after them.

The Ox helps the Cat and the Rat <

All the animals lined up along the river bank. The rat and the cat, who were good friends, were worried because they were poor swimmers.  Being clever they asked the strong ox if he would carry them across.

"Of course", said the kind ox.  "Just climb on my back and I will take you across."

The Rat Wins the Race +

The rat and the cat jumped up and were very excited when the ox took the lead. They almost reached the other bank when the rat pushed the cat into the water leaving him to struggle.  Just as the ox was about to win the race, the rat leaped on his head and on to the bank to finish first.

"Well done," said the Jade Emperor to the proud rat.  The first year of the zodiac will be named after you.  The poor ox had been tricked into second place and the second year of the zodiac.

The Tiger Takes Third Place  =

Shortly after the exhausted tiger clawed his way to the rive bank to claim third place. Swimming across the river had been an enormous struggle for him against the strong currents.  The emperor was so delighted with his efforts that he named the third year after him,

The Rabbit hops Across the River &

Next to arrive was the rabbit, who hadn't swum across at all.  He had hopped across on some stepping stones and then found a floating log which carried him to the shore.

"I shall be very happy to call the fourth year after you," the surprised Jade Emperor explained

The Helpful Dragon is Fifth  % 

Just then a kind dragon swooped down to take fifth place.  The Jade Emperor asked, "Why didn't you win the race, when you can fly?"

"I needed to make some rain, because some people and animals needed water to drink,"the dragon explained.  "
Then I saw a little rabbit on a long in the water and I blew a puff of wind so that the log would float to the river bank."

"Well that was very kind of you. You will have the fifth year of the zodiac named after you."

The Snake Surprises the Horse  #

The next thing the Jade Emperor heard was the sound of the horse's hooves.  Just as he was thinking the horse  would be the next animal to arrive, a sneaky snake wriggled out from around one of the horse's hooves.  The horse was so surprised that he jumped backwards giving the snake a chance to take the sixth place in the race.  The poor horse had to be satisfied with seventh place.

The Goat, Monkey and Rooster Work Together  @

Not long afterwards a raft arrived carrying the goat, monkey and the rooster.  They explained to the Emperor how they had shared the raft that the rooster had found. The goat and monkey 
The goat and monkey had cleared weeds and pushed the raft to the shore.

The Emperor was very pleased that the animals had worked together.  He said the goat would be the eighth, the monkey the ninth and the rooster the tenth.

The Dog takes a Bath  **

The next animal to finish was the dog. "Why are you so late when you are one of the best swimmers?"asked the Jade Emperor.

"The water in the river was so clean that I had to have a bath on the way." Explained the Dog.

His reward was to have the eleventh year named after him.

The Boar Claims Last Place  $

There was one place left in the zodiac and the Emperor wondered when the last winner would come.  Finally he heard a grunt from the boar.

"You took a long time to cross the river,"said the Emperor to the boar.  "I was hungry and stopped to eat," explained the boar.  "After the meal I felt so tired that I fell asleep."

"You have still done well," said the Jade Emperor.  "The last year of the zodiac will be named after you."

The Cat Crawls Out of the Water   ^

As for the cat who had been pushed into the water by the rat, he finally crawled out of the water but was too late to have a year named after him.  He felt very disappointed by the rat and since then cats have never been friends with rats.

From that day to this the Chinese Zodiac has followed this cycle of years named after these twelve animals.


Chinese New Year for 2015 is Feb. 19.   It is also the year of the Goat, it sometimes is known as the Year of the Sheep or Ram, since the Chinese word does not specify the difference.

1. Why is the cat and the rat no longer friends after the Emperor ordeal? 
What does the expression: "carrying a grudge is like taking poison and expecting someone else to die."

2. What deed did the dragon do that made him fifth place? What did the Emperor say to him when he saw him after the rabbit?  

3. Regarding the Dragon's response to Emperor: how do you think the expression : "No good deed goes unpunished." pertain to the behavior of the dragon.

4. The goat, monkey and rooster worked cooperatively to reach their goal.  In your opinion what kind of behavior/personality traits do each animal have that constructed a cooperative paradigm?
(paradigm= model, example, pattern,prototype, archetype)