Chinese Zodiac or Shēngxiào (生肖) is a scheme that relates each year to an animal. Similar to Western zodiac and Hindu rashi’s time cycles are divided into 12 parts each labels an individual animal, but unlike western zodiac 12 parts corresponds to year rather than a month each attributing influence of a person's relationship to yearly cycle. Chinese zodiac is more common in East Asian countries like China, Vietnam, Korea, Thailand, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Japan and also has signification values among East-Indian culture
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Chinese zodiac begins with the sign of the Rat (子 zi) followed by the Ox (丑 chou) (or water buffalo in Vietnam), Tiger (寅 yin), Rabbit (卯 mao) (or Cat in Vietnam), Dragon (辰 chen), Snake (巳 si), Horse (午 wu) , Goat (未 wei) or Sheep, Monkey (申 shen), Rooster (酉 you) , Dog (戌 xu), Pig (亥 hai) (or Boar in Japan and Elephant in Northern Thailand) each with its associated Earthly branch.
In Chinese astrology, sign are assigned to a person based on the year in which he/she is born this becomes his/her major sign. Further animal signs is assigned by month (called inner animals), by day (called true animals) and hours (called secret animals). Thus based on the
element (Wu Xing) day, month year and hour the person is born he may have Rat as his/her major sign, they may be snake internally, rabbit truly and sheep secretively. In all there are about 103,680 combination of personality. Different animal rules each day and represents information about the personality, adult and married life of a person
As per Chinese Zodiac legends and mythology once Jade Emperor invited animals to participate in a race. The prize was that
the first 12 animals to cross the river would appear on the Chinese Zodiac calendar in the order in which they completed the race.
The Cat and Rat were the worst swimmers in the animal kingdom. Although a poor swimmers, they both were intelligent. Chinese Zodiac legends and mythology explains that the rat used his brain rather than his brawn. Cat and Rat decided that the best and fastest way to cross the river was to ride on the back of the mightiest swimmer - the Ox. In midway Rat pushed Cat into the water. Just before the Ox reached the shore, the rat jumped off and crossed the finish line putting it in first place.
The Ox came second and occupied second position in the listed on the Chinese Zodiac. The tiger came in third, followed by the rabbit that jumped his way and arrived with a thumping sound. Fifth came the dragon. A snake hid in the hoof of the horse. Hidden on the Horse's hoof the Snake suddenly appeared and gave the Horse a fright, thus making it fall back and giving the Snake the 6th spot. Horse came next and got seventh place.
The sheep, monkey and rooster helped one another to cross the river and have earned their spots on the calendar. The dog decided to bath first then to get listed and that is why it came in eleventh. The pig feasted and rested half-way through the race, but made to last
twelfth position. The Cat finished in at 13th place and could not find any position in the zodiac.