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Legends of the Chinese Zodiac
When Is The Chinese New Year?
The Chinese New Year does not happen every year on January 1. In fact, it doesn't even happen on the same day each year. The Chinese New Year takes place anywhere between the last few weeks of January to the first few weeks of February. This year, the year of 2012, the Chinese New Year happened on January 23, 2012.
I decided to do a hub about the Chinese New Year a few weeks ago, thinking I had time because this day normally happens in February. How wrong I was. But I'm gonna do this hub, anyway, and let people know a few of the legends surrounding the start of the Chinese Zodiac system.
But first, I welcome the year of the Dragon!
What Does It Mean To Be One Of The Animals?
For the longest time, I thought that I was born in the year of the dragon. I thought that the year changed on January 1, and so I only bothered to look into the year that I was born. But, once I found out that the Chinese New Year happened usually in mid-February, and I am born at the start of February, I did a little research. I am the year of the Rabbit.
What makes the Chinese New Year so interesting is how it is viewed to affect people. It is thought that all those born in the year of whatever animal it is will gain the characteristics of that animal. I am a rabbit, and those born in the year of the rabbit are lucky, gentle, caring, talented, friendly, shy, and sentimental. Does this fit me? Yes, it actually does.
But looking at the animals, why were those selected? Why in this order?: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, Pig? Those seem kind of weird. Well, I found two legends about them and decided to share them.
Legend Number 1--A Feast
One day, Buddha (or the Jade Emperor, who is the Emperor of Heaven) decided to hold a celebratory feast. He sent out an invitation to all the animals, but only twelve showed up. Because there wasn't a way to mark the passage of time, apparently, the order of which the animals came became the order of the years.
The ox would have been the first to come, but the rat used the ox to ride on. And just when the ox was about to enter, the rat jumped off and entered the house first. Then the ox followed, along with the tiger, rabbit, dragon, and the others.
There is a variation on this tale, in which the rat tricked the cat, an animal that does not show up in the cycle. The rat told the cat that the feast was on a different day, and the cat was left out. This legend is really talked about in the manga (Japanese comic) and anime called Fruits Basket.
Legend Number 2--A Race
This legend pretty much has the same principal characters as the first legend.
Buddha (or the Jade Emperor) wanted to put a way to measure time in place. So he sends out an invitation to all the animals to race across a river. The first twelve animals who reach the other side of the river will be given one of the twelve spots, in order of how they finished.
The rat knew that he wouldn't be able to cross the river by strength, so he used his brains and rode on top of a strong swimmer. He jumped off once the ox reached the other shore and became the first year. The ox was second. The tiger, also a good swimmer, followed next. The rabbit made it across through speed and also help by the dragon. The dragon went and helped many different people and the rabbit before reaching the other side, which was why he wasn't first.
The snake hid in the hoof of the horse and surprised the horse so that he would be the sixth and the horse would be the seventh. The sheep (or goat), rooster, and monkey all helped each other out to get across the river. The dog was bathing in the river, which was why he was almost last. And finally, the pig was last. He was last because he rested halfway through the race.
There is more to the Chinese Zodiac other than just giving someone character traits and marking the passage of time. The Chinese Zodiac changes based off of elemental properties. I stated that I was born in the year of the rabbit, but that year was heavy in the element of fire. I am a Fire Rabbit. Nothing is scarier that a flaming rabbit. But that fire doesn't mean I'm angry or anything else, it just changes some personality characteristics and what other elements I need in my life to keep it in balance.
But that sounds an awful lot like Feng Shui. And that's completely correct. The Chinese Zodiac is connected to Feng Shui, and can change what you need in your house to keep the energy (or Chi) flowing properly.
Chi? Isn't that the same thing from Tai Chi? Yeup! Chi is the flow of energy. In places where the energy is not flowing, there can be discord and difficulties. Feng Shui helps keep the good energy flowing and the bad energy out of the house or home. Tai Chi helps the flow of this energy keep moving inside of the human body. When your Chi is flowing right, you feel better about yourself and your life starts moving more smoothly.
Now you may say, "Hold up, Cammiebar. Why does the New Year change from year to year? What's up with that? You just ignored it in your first and second sections!" Well, here is the answer to that. The calendar that many people use, which deals with the twelve months of 30 to 31 days (except for February), is based off of the rotation of the sun. This time system deals with the lunar/solar cycle and Gregorian aspects. That's why it's different.
This is a really basic hub about two legends and a slipshod manner of giving information about the Chinese Zodiac. But hey, I'm a rabbit and a rabbit is fast moving!
For more information about characteristics about your sign, click here.
For more information about what your sign is, click here.