Animals

Let us discover what animal we are and the ancient history that led to the origins of the Chinese New Year animals.

The occasion of Chinese New Year is without a doubt considered to be the most prominent event in the Chinese lunar calendar. The traditional celebrations have been going on for years and the festive spirit is pretty much alive even today. The unique characteristic of the Chinese New Year is however the twelve year cycle that associates the coming of the year with an animal symbol.

The Chinese New Year animal follows a twelve year cycle and hence repeats. According to their present status, the next year should be the year of the Ox. The old philosophers of China have done a research on the behavior of the animals and have drawn a similarity between their personality traits and human nature.

Hence a person conceivedin the year of a particular animal is considered to have certain behaviors found in that particular animal. The individual born in the year of the ox for example is supposed to have good organizational skills, they are considered dependable and loyal as well as patient and strong.

The theory of the twelve year cycle with the animals designated to each year is derived from the Buddhist dharma. Legend has it that it was Buddha himself who summoned all these animals before he came down to earth. There was a contest to be held amongst these animals where the first one to reach the finishing line would be assigned to the first year.

When the race began, the competition was challenging. The act of betrayal was seen in the rat who made a deal with the cat but eventually didn’t keep his word. All along the race it looked like the ox would win as he wadedthrough the crowd but little did he know that the rat was riding on his back all through the race and just when the ox was about to finish the race first, the rat leaped off his back and claimed the first position.

Hence we find that the first year of the twelve year cycle is the year of the rat because he managed to finish the race in first place, by hook or by crook. The year of the ox follows the rat as the hard working animal came in at second place. The ox is then followed by the rest of the animals according to the order in which they finished. The cycle ends with the pig!

If you are thinking where these stories have originated from and why just twelve animals were summoned by Buddha, then be prepared to get no answers for these questions! This is because, it is an archaic Chinese traditional belief which has been kept alive till date and it is a strong part of the culture. Buddha was greatly moved by the twelve animals who took part in the race and to show his appreciation he assigned a year each to these animals.

Chinese new year animal symbols are an important part of the celebrations in China. If you would like to read about Chinese new year for children please click on the hyperlinks.