According to Chinese legend, the twelve animals quarreled one day regarding who was to head the cycle of years. The gods were asked to decide and they held a contest: whoever was to reach the opposite bank of the river would be first, and the rest of the animals would receive their years according to their finish.
All the twelve animals gathered at the river bank and jumped in. Unknown to the ox, the rat had leapt upon his back. As the ox was about to jump ashore, the rat jumped off the ox’s back, and won the race. The pig, who was very lazy, ended up last. That is why the rat is the first year of the animal cycle, the ox second, and the pig last.
The Chinese animal indications are a 12-year cycle used for dating the years. They represent a cyclical principle of time, rather than the Western linear principle of time. In the Chinese calendar, the start of the year falls someplace between late January and early February. The Chinese have adopted the Western calendar given that 1911, but the lunar calendar is still utilized for festive occasions such as the Chinese New Year. Many Chinese calendars will print both the solar dates and the Chinese lunar dates.
A cultural sidelight of the animal signs in Chinese folklore is that horoscopes have developed around the animal indications, similar to regular monthly horoscopes in the West have actually been established for the various moon signs, Pisces, Aries, and so on. For instance, a Chinese horoscope might predict that a person born in the Year of the Horse would be, cheerful, popular, and enjoys to compliment others. These horoscopes are amusing, however not regarded seriously by the Chinese people.