Sunday, July 22, 2018

5. Where's the Kitty?

You may or may not have heard about how the 12 signs of the Chinese zodiac were chosen. According to one legend, Buddha prepared a big race and asked all animals to join, but only 12 showed up. Buddha decided to name the cycle of years after these participants, based on the winning order: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Hare, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Ram, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Boar.

Pet lovers might ask, there's a Dog, but why no Kitty? Actually there's another version of the story: Cat was eager to race, but worried she would oversleep and miss the game. So, she asked her best friend Rat to remember to wake her up so that they could go together. Rat promised Cat, but then broke his promise, thinking it was a clever way to get rid of one competitor. Cat missed the chance to race, and was infuriated that Rat won first place! Ever since then, Cat always hunts Rat. And now you know why.

But in the Vietnamese community, they do have a Year of the Cat that replaces Tiger. The reasoning behind this is that Tiger is a wild and violent animal; and to some Chinese-Vietnamese, "Tiger" is pronounced similarly to "tough and difficult." Who wants a tough and difficult year? This could be the reason Cat was substituted.

It is interesting to note that one of Japan's cultural borrowings from China during the Meiji Period (October 23, 1868, to July 30, 1912) was the 12 zodiac year, using the same animal titles for each year. However, unlike China, Japan does not use the Lunar calendar; and begins each New Year on January 1st.

Do you know your zodiac sign? Here's a table to help you find it, based on your birth year.



  1. I personally find this quite reflective of people's personality when analysis with the birth time, date or even birthplace.
    One has to be mindful of the date particularly as there is the time difference in various birth locations.

  2. Love the graphics in this post. There are design skills at work here.