Chinese New Year – The Tale of the Animals : According to Chinese astrology, each year is associated with an animal. Out of the twelve animals in the Chinese zodiac, also known as Sheng Xiao, the goat comes eighth. Other animals that appear in the lunar calendar are rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, monkey, rooster, dog and pig.

February 19, 2015 welcomes the Year of the Goat in celebration of the Chinese New Year, China’s most loved festival.

The Chinese New Year is a celebration of many things – folklore, culture, art and tradition. There are many timeless tales of how the holiday came to be and why it is celebrated. One of these tales revolves around the relevance of the animals in the Chinese Zodiac, and their order of appearance in the 12-year calendar cycle.

It is the story of the Order of the Animals, scribbled in the annals of Chinese history.

The Jade Emperor (the Emperor in Heaven, according to Chinese folklore) ordered the animals to arrive at a particular point. He declared that the first 12 to arrive would be designated as calendar signs.

At the time, the cat and the rat were good friends. When they heard of the selection process, they decided to go together. As the cat usually slept in, the rat promised to awaken him on the morning of the selection. But when morning came, the rat was so excited that he rushed straight to the selection place, leaving the cat behind.

On his way, the rat met all the other animals, such as the tiger, the ox and the horse. These animals were much faster than him. Sensing early defeat in the hands of these quick creatures, the rat made a deal with the ox, who carried him on the condition that he sang for him on the journey.

The ox and the rat arrived first. The ox was over the moon about reaching first, and could not believe his luck. However, his happiness was short-lived, for the rat had a plan of his own. As the ox neared the selection point, the rat jumped off the ox’s head, and reached the post before the larger animal. And so, with a great deal of skulduggery, the rat became the first lucky animal of the Chinese Zodiac.

Soon, other animals arrived one after the other, with the goat trotting in eighth, after the horse. Meanwhile, the cat was left alone and forgotten, and ever since that day, the cat and rat have remained bitter enemies.

Rosa Patinson is a web enthusiast and a writer. Rosa has afforded her articles and write-ups autonomously and through various online forums.