The Great Race of the Chinese Zodiac – The 12 animals

What’s your sign? It’s the constellation determined by your birth date. But according to the Chinese zodiac, it’s the animal assigned to your birth year. The myth of “The Great Race” says that the Jade emperor — one of the most important gods in the ancient Chinese religions — wanted to find a way to arrange the time, so he organized a race between animals.
the 12 animals
the 12 animals

The first 12 animals to cross the river would earn a spot on the zodiac calendar in the order they arrive. The rat and the cat were small and poor swimmers. They asked the kind-hearted ox to carry them across the river. Just as they were about to reach the other side, the rat pushed the cat into the river, jumped off the ox’s head, and guaranteed first place.

Later, the cat was so angry that he ate the rat. Rats and cats became enemies ever since. The ox had been tricked into second place. The mighty tiger came in third as he struggled with the current. The rabbit didn’t swim at all, he hopped on stones and logs that carried him to the land, earning the fourth place. The helpful dragon was the fifth. The Jade emperor wondered “How could a dragon be so far behind while having the ability to fly?”.

The Jade found out that the kind dragon blew a puff to help the logs carry the rabbit to float faster to the river bank. Just as the horse reached the land, the snake slithered by and scared the horse. The snake got the sixth place. The poor horse came in seventh. The Jade looked at the river and spotted a raft carrying a sheep, a monkey, and a rooster. They were all working together to push the raft through weeds. 

The Jade named the eighth place after the sheep that had been the most harmonious and comforting of them, followed by the monkey and the rooster. Next came the dog which was an excellent swimmer yet finished in the eleventh place. The dog pampered himself with a bath and forgot about the race. After a long time, the Jade finally spotted the twelfth of them. The pig felt hungry and stopped to eat. After that, he fell for a nap before he could cross the finish line.

The Great Race of the Chinese Zodiac

The Chinese zodiac describes the years not the months, and it’s celebrated as the Chinese New Year. The Chinese believe that your animal year affects your personality type, thinking and behavior in a way close to the animal behavior in the myth of the great race. It gets more complicated, you can also have an inner animal based on your birth month, a true animal based on your birth date, and a secret animal based on your birth hour. We think it’s fair to say that China LOVES animals, and not just pandas!

the ox year
the ox year

Here are some traits that are linked with zodiac signs:

Rat: Charming, talkative, critical
Ox: hardworking, reliable, stubborn
Tiger: Confident, brave, selfish
Rabbit: sensitive, artistic, shy
Dragon: energetic, generous, impatient
Snake: Clever, wise, jealous
Horse: enthusiastic, independent, moody,
Sheep: Easygoing, creative, lazy
Monkey: intelligent, optimistic, unpredictable
Rooster: funny, loyal, self-involved
Dog: Helpful, honest, anxious
Pig: Caring, generous, impatient

If you are interested to find out more about your Chinese zodiac sign you can use the Chinese Animal Zodiac Sign Calculator


Check your birth year in the table below to know your zodiac sign.

zodiac sign calendar
zodiac sign calendar

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