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Saturday, February 05, 2005

Chinese Zodiac

The other day my wife and I were discussing about the 12 animals of the chinese zodiac. As Christians we don't believe in the significance of the zodiac (both English or Chinese) and whatever characteristics the animals represent, but as Chinese people, it has always been a source of fun and entertainment for my family.

Shockingly the both of us could not even remember the 12 animals correctly, let alone the order. After a few minutes of stumbling in the dark, we whipped out a note book and started listing down the years. We went like, "OK, my brother was born in 1967, he's definitely a goat" etc using our friends as points of reference. Let me just note that I'm not saying my brother is a real goat, nor does he acts or look like one, only that he was born in the year of the goat. Must clarify that...

So after like ten minutes we got the final list:

Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Ram (goat), Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Boar.

I just check on the 'Net and found out that the rat was the first in the cycle. I remember a story about how the rat tricked the cat in a race to enter the listing of the zodiac. Something like the "Ancient China's Amazing Race for the Top Twelve Animals". Or "Survivor China : Make the List or Be Eaten". That was supposed to be the reason for why cats hated rats. But the story clearly makes no mention on why dogs hate cats. Or if a real 20 foot dragon actually appeared in the flesh for this particular race.

Which makes me wonder - what happened the to other animals who did not make the list? Did they not come for the race / selection? Or did they actually come but came in 13th place and below? For example, I wonder if the Dou Na the Duck actually came in 27th because he chose the wrong coach. Or if Jiang Bo the Elephant failed to read the route marker properly or was voted out in the tribal council. Or did Wei Ni the Bear get 2 yellow cards for an illegal challenge on Yi Or the Donkey?

This is all very mysterious. I suspect the Han Dynasty suppressed vital information on what really happened. Maybe after 5000 years, the historical documents and telephone transcripts can be declassified and finally revealed to the eager public.

Maybe I'll finally find out the real reason why lion only dance during Chinese New Year, but not when see them at the zoo.


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