Chinese New Year is upon us and people of Chinese descent around the world are prepping their red envelopes, bringing out the lucky red decor, and striving to become one with the year of the Earth Dog.
This year we decided to unpack the origins of the Chinese Zodiac using the story of the Great Race, which is the foundation for why this week will be chock-full of red-themed festivities! The story of the Great Race has been told in a variety of ways, but there remain recurring themes in all the stories.
Legend has it that the Jade Emperor – considered the first, and leader of all Chinese mythological gods – decided to host a race involving all the animals. The animals had to cross to the opposing side of a river to determine their position in the Zodiac.
First came the Cat and the Rat, who devised a plan to ride the oblivious Ox across the river. Little did the Cat know however, he didn’t really have a friend in the Rat and he was about to find out why. As soon as the Ox set off, the Rat scared the Cat off the Ox and in to the water. By the time the Cat could react, the Ox had already traveled too far ahead. This is said to be the beginning of the animosity between cats and rats, as well as cats’ loathing of getting wet.
The Ox was poised to be the first animal to complete the race, however the Rat then expeditiously leaped forward from above the Ox to effectively steal the title. The Ox was unperturbed by this so he simply eased his way to second place.