The Great Race
Today we celebrate the Lunar New Year by saying good-bye to the Year of the Rat and ushering in the Year of the Ox, the 2nd zodiac animal in the twelve year lunar calendar. Have you ever wondered what the twelve animals are and how their place in the order was determined? One of the most popular stories is called The Great Race.
Legend has it The Great Race was hosted by the Jade Emperor who wanted to determine the “Zodiac of all Time.” Twelve animals would be assigned a year to rule based on where they finished in the race. The 12 animals participating were: The Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Rooster, Monkey, Dog, and the Pig.
The Podium Finishers
The race was across the width of a mighty river. As the race began, the quick-witted Rat hopped onto the Ox’s head for an easy ride across the river. The diligent Ox navigated the river’s current in methodical fashion and as they neared the bank, the Rat leapt from the Ox’s head onto the shore for the upset win. The rat’s quick-thinking maneuver, in what may be the greatest finishing kick of all time, left the Ox to finish a close second. This is why the rat is the first animal in the zodiac cycle, followed by the Ox.
Many would assume that the Ox should feel cheated after carrying the Rat across the river just to have the Rat surge ahead for the win, however, the Ox did not hold a grudge. Because of this, the Ox is considered good-natured, reliable, calm, and methodical.
A top competitor, the Tiger, finished in third as its thick fur coat was weighed down by the water as it swam across the river.
4th & 5th: Rabbit & Dragon
As the race continued, the Rabbit swiftly hopped from rock to rock across the river. As it pushed off from one particularly slippery rock it fell into the river. The Rabbit frantically paddled in an attempt to stay afloat in the current. The Rabbit clung to a lifesaving log headed downstream in the river’s current when suddenly luck changed. Out of nowhere, a friendly gust of wind reverted the log, washing it, and the rabbit, to shore. Exhausted, it hopped off the log and claimed the 4th spot. Shortly thereafter, a majestic dragon swooped down from the clouds and landed on shore for 5th place. The Jade Emperor approached the Dragon, the pre-race favorite, wondering aloud why it had not finished in first place. The Dragon explained how on the journey it noticed a small village on fire. The Dragon knew it would be giving up a top spot in the race but felt compelled to save the villagers. While gathering water from the river to save the village the Dragon saw a small Rabbit struggling in the current and blew it safely to shore. The Jade Emperor respected the Dragon’s kind acts.
6th & 7th: Snake and Horse
The Horse was able to gallop swiftly across the river with its strong long legs. Approaching the riverbank, the Horse noticed the Snake had wrapped itself around its lower leg. Startled, the Horse bucked rearing up on its hind legs while the Snake slithered onto the bank just ahead of the Horse.
8-9-10: Sheep, Rooster, & Monkey
The Sheep, Rooster, and Monkey worked together to paddle across on a log raft. Upon reaching the shore the three agreed the Sheep should take 8th place for being the most harmonious of the group, followed by the Rooster and the Monkey.
The Dog playfully enjoyed its time crossing the river. While the Dog was a great swimmer, it spent a good deal of time splashing around and having fun in the water before making its way across the river.
The Pig claimed the final spot in the zodiac. While swift, it stopped for a bite to eat followed by a nap. Upon awakening from its slumber, the Pig made its way across the river and onto the opposite riverbank for the 12th and final spot.
The Great Race solidified the order of the Zodiac and every year since then has been claimed by one of the twelve animals.
Many well wishes from all of us at Sur.
What is your zodiac animal?