Chinese New Year Animals

Want to know what animal you are? Find out the legendary origins of the Chinese New Year animals.

The event of Chinese New Year is without a doubt considered to be the most important 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 repeats every twelve years. According to their current standing the next year should be the year of the Ox. The ancient philosophers of China studied the behavior of the animals in the calendar and drew a similitude with their personality traits and human nature.

Hence a person born in the year of a particular animal is considered to have certain traits found in that particular animal. The person 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.

Legendary Origins of the Chinese New Year Animals

The concept of the twelve year cycle with the animals assigned to each year is derived from the Buddhist dharma. Legend has it that it was Buddha himself who summoned all these animals before he descended 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.

The race began during which there was intense competition and betrayal especially on the part of the rat that had made a deal with the cat but didn’t stick to his word. All the while it seemed as though the ox would take the top spot as it made its way through the crowd. Little did the ox know that the clever rat was actually riding on its back and just when the ox was about to reach the finish line the rat leaped forward to claim 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 wondering why just twelve animals came to Buddha and why specifically these animals then keep wondering because you will find no answers to these questions! The fact of the matter is that this is an ancient tradition which has been kept alive up till today and is deeply embedded in the Chinese culture. As a token of appreciation for their coming Buddha apparently assigned a year to each of the animals and that’s the way the legend has it.