Chinese legend - Hong Kong A La Carte

21 February 2018

One of the most widespread legends is the one of the Chinese zodiac which is passed down from generation to generation.

The Jade Emperor ordered that animals would represent the 12 months of the calendar. In order to decide their order, he held a race across a river. Thirteen animals took part to represent each of the twelve calendar months.

Considered as the smartest of the 13th animals, the Rat arrived first. Since the Rat couldn’t swim, he jumped on the Ox’s back and hopped onto the other side as soon as they reached the shore. The Ox arrived second, then the Tiger in third. The Rabbit, which was rescued by the Dragon, arrived fourth. Surprisingly for a flying animal, the Dragon arrived fifth (only because he stopped to help the Rabbit). The Snake and the Horse came in sixth and seventh while the Goat, the Monkey and the Rooster made an agreement to help each other cross the river on a raft. Since they arrived at the same time, The Emperor placed them according to their position on the raft, eighth, ninth, and tenth. This left the Dog and the Pig, the last two places.

So who’s the thirteenth animal? Well, it was the the Cat. He also decided to hitch a ride with the Rat on the Ox’s back. Unfortunately for him, half way across the river, the Rat pushed him into the water and he never finished in time! That’s why the Cat doesn’t feature in the Chinese zodiac.

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