Chinese New Year Animals & Chinese Zodiac - A Great Children's Bedtime Story
Chinese New Year Animals
The New Lunar Year or Chinese New Year marks the beginning of a Chinese calendar year and each cycle is named after an animal. Do you know how this came about?
Short Bedtime Stories for Kids
As in any folklore, legends, or mythologies, there are many versions of the story. Likewise, there are also many versions of the Chinese Zodiac story. The version that you are about to read is based on the great race. This Chinese New Year animals story is probably the best version and is great as children bedtime story.
Invitation to a Grand Race
A long long time ago, before his departure from earth, Buddha decided to have a grand race and all the animals in the kingdom were invited.
Unfortunately only 12 animals showed up at the event. Grateful for their efforts, Buddha rewarded them by naming each year of the Chinese Zodiac calendar after these 12 animals. And it was arranged according to the order of their arrival.
The 12 animals that came for the grand race were a rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and pig. These are what we now know as the Chinese zodiac animals.
Cat and the Rat
Upon hearing of Buddha's invitation to the grand race, the Cat invited his best friend the Rat to join him and they agreed to go together.
But the Cat has the habit of waking up late. So, fearing he might miss the grand race, he asked the Rat to wake him up the next morning.
The Rat, however, forgot his promise and left without his best friend, the Cat.
Alas, when the Cat finally woke up, it was already too late and did not make it to the race on time. Hence, there was no year in the Chinese Zodiac named after him. This is why until this day, the Cat will always hunt the Rat.
The Cunning Rat
The Rat was actually too excited about the race. That's why he forgot to wake up his friend, the Cat.
Along the way, the Rat saw other animals were already in front of him and they ran much faster. Before the finishing line, there is also a river to cross and it is not a small river!
But the Rat is already feeling tired and it is still a long way to go. He is also a poor swimmer. So as not to fall behind them, he came out with a brilliant idea.
He knows that the Ox is the mightiest swimmer and a very straightforward animal who will believe in anything. So he pleaded with the Ox to let him ride on its head. by convincing him that being a small animal, he will not be able to run faster than the Ox.
The Ox, being a kind and straightforward animal agreed to let the Rat ride on its head and swim across together. As they neared the shore, the Rat quickly jumped off the Ox's back and sprint to the finishing line, much to the Ox's disappointment. Hence, the Rat was the first to arrive followed by the Ox.
The first year in the Chinese Zodiac calendar is therefore named after the cunning Rat and the second, after the Ox.
Year of The Tiger
Not far behind is the Tiger. Although the Tiger is a fast animal, he had a problem when trying to cross the river.
The heavy current kept pushing him downstream and with all his might he finally managed to get to shore and came third in the race.
So the third year of Chinese Zodiac calendar is named Year of the Tiger
Year of the Rabbit
Suddenly the Rabbit appeared. He was all wet and looked very tired. He tried to cross the river by jumping from stone to stone but lost his balance and was almost drowned.
Fortunately, he managed to hold on to a floating log and later got on to shore.
So the fourth year in the Chinese Zodiac calendar is the Year of the Rabbit.
Although the Dragon can fly, he only came in fifth. Apparently, he had to slow down as he had to make rain for all the people and all the creatures on earth. And he also saw the poor Rabbit holding on to the floating log, struggling to stay afloat.
So, he puffed and puffed his breath to push the log to shore. The Rabbit never realized that he was saved by the Dragon. That is why babies born in Year of Rabbit always enjoy good fortune in the Year of Dragon!
The Horse, then the Snake
As soon as the Dragon took his seat next to the Rat, Ox, Tiger, and Rabbit, the Horse came charging in.
He thought he will be the sixth animal to arrive but he was wrong. Unknowing to the Horse, the Snake had clung on to his leg, and the moment they are about to reach the finishing line, the Snake quickly jumped. The Horse, taken by surprised, lunged backward and lost to the Snake who claimed the sixth position.
Chinese New Year Animals - Goat, Monkey and Rooster
Moments later, the Goat, Monkey, and Rooster came almost together.
Just before the Rooster was about to cross the river, he saw the Monkey and the Goat. He convinced them to work and help each other when crossing the river instead of doing it all by themselves. So, they make a raft. But it was a small raft and it wasn't easy with all three of them. They had to push and pull and finally managed to cross the river.
Running to the finishing line, the Goat managed to arrive first followed by Monkey, then Rooster.
The Dog then the Pig
Although the Dog is a good swimmer, he came in at the 11th place. He was a playful animal and was splashing around in the water too much, leaving others to overtake him.
Long after all the eleven animals had arrived, the Pig finally appeared. In fact, Buddha had given up hope of any more animals arriving when he suddenly heard the oink.
The Pig as expected was hungry and although he was in the race, he decided to stop and eat. He ate too much and grew sleepy and finally dozed off. He was lucky to wake up just in time to come in 12th, the last position.
Chinese Zodiac Signs - Story for Kids
That's how the Chinese calendar year got its name from the animals and the start of Chinese zodiac signs.
So, which is your favorite Chinese New Year animal and do you know which animal year you were born in? Check the table below to find out.
Chinese Zodiac Years and Chinese Zodiac Compatibility
Just for fun, check if the following Chinese zodiac compatibility is true. Ask your friend and test if there are any compatibility or otherwise: Do you know who is the loneliest with only one friend?
If You Are Born in This Year
Years of Birth
Then You Are Compatible with People Born in These Years
1912, 1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008, 2020
Ox, Dragon, Monkey
1913, 1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009, 2021
Rat, Monkey, Rooster
1914, 1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010, 2022
Dragon, Horse, Pig
1915, 1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011, 2023
Sheep, Monkey, Dog, Pig
1916, 1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012, 2024
Rooster, Rat, Monkey
1917, 1929, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013, 2025
1918, 1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014, 2026
Tiger, Sheep, Rabbit
1919, 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015, 2027
Rabbit, Horse, Pig
1920, 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016, 2028
1921, 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017, 2029
1922, 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018, 2030
1923, 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019, 2031
Tiger, Rabbit, Sheep
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Questions & Answers
Why was the sheep not explained in the Chinese zodiac?
The Goat and Sheep are similar in the Chinese Zodiac. Hence, it will be called Year of the Goat or Year of the Sheep and sometimes even Year of the Ram. They are all the same. However, the Year of the Goat is commonly used. So, in my article, I use Goat instead of Sheep.Helpful 4
© 2012 Mazlan