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十二生肖 (shi2 er4 sheng1 xiao1) Zodiac Animals

IN ancient times, there were no Chinese zodiac animals. So, one day, the Jade Emperor decided to call all animals on the earth to a party and he would pick 12 animals to represent 12 zodiac signs.

Hearing the news, all animals were very excited and eager to attend the big party.

At that time, the rat and the cat were very good friends. The cat loved to take naps, so he told the rat to wake him up in time for the party next day.

Early next morning, after the rat got up, he saw the cat still sound asleep. In order to get a bigger chance to win a spot in the zodiac cycle, the rat decided not to wake the cat. So, he sneaked out and went to the party by himself.

In the nearby lake, a dragon was getting ready to go to the party. With a big nose, long whiskers and shiny scales, the dragon looked both gallant and radiant. But he loathed his bald head. He thought if he could have a pair of beautiful antlers, he would look perfect.

Then, he saw a rooster going by. The rooster at that time had both a crest and a pair of very beautiful antlers. So, the dragon said, "Good morning, Rooster. Can I borrow your antlers? I'm going to attend the animal party and I can't go with a bald head."

"No," the rooster answered. "I'm going to the party, too. I need my beautiful antlers myself."

Just then, a scorpion crawled out of a crack of rock. After hearing the conversation, the busybody said to the rooster, "Hey, don't be so mean. You look good enough with your crest and you don't need that pair of antlers. Lend them to the dragon and I'm willing to be the guarantor for the deal."

The proud rooster thought it was probably right that he looked good enough even without the antlers. So, he agreed to lend his antlers to the dragon.

At the party, the Jade Emperor picked 12 animals for the zodiac cycle. They included ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, ram, rat, monkey, rooster, dog and pig. Then, the emperor found it difficult to decide who's going to lead the 12 animals. After a heated discussion, all participants agreed to arrange the order according to the size of each animal in the zodiac cycle. Someone suggested the ox was the biggest animal among the dozen and even the majestic tiger agreed. But, the rat jumped out and said: "No, no. I have always heard people say 'such a big rat' and never heard anyone say 'such a big ox.' So, I'm the biggest of the 12." But others disagreed.

So, the emperor decided to parade the 12 animals in front of a big crowd of people on the earth to see what they would say.

When the ox, tiger and others came by, people didn't make any comment. Then when the rat jumped onto the back of the ox, the crowd said almost in unison: "Oh, such a big rat." Afterward, rat was listed in the first place of the zodiac cycle and followed by the ox.

When the ebullient rat returned home, the cat just woke up. When he found out that he had missed the party, the cat vowed to be the enemy of the rat forever.

On the lake side, the dragon was so pleased with his borrowed antlers that he refused to return them to the rooster and escaped by diving into the water. The rooster could not swim, so he vowed to revenge on the guarantor scorpion for losing his beautiful antlers.

Today, the Chinese zodiac signs also represent 12 different types of personalities.


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