The animal Zodiac.
The animal Zodiac is based on the Chinese I Ching or The Book of Changes.
It is first employed in Japan in the beginning of the 7th.century; and
consists of 12 animal signs.
Even today, these animals are used in referring to a particular year, and
are said to have much influence
on the temperament of people born under their zodiac sign.
It was the final day of the year ,a long, long time
On the highest and steepest mountain on earth, lived a Master who was quite
upset and disturbed: "Tomorrow is the beginning of the new cycle of
the year, but the year has no name".
He was so distressed for not being able to solve the problem.
He thought all day long, when suddenly he came to a wonderful idea.
He took his pen, and started to write thousand of letters to all the animals
in the whole land:
This is an invitation to all animals.
Whoever arrives at my place on the first day
of the year, at sun rise, will become my guests
The first twelve will be chosen as leaders,
to whom l will grant the whole year to look after.
And from that moment on the years will be
called after your names.
Then the Master went to the top of the mountain, and from there scattered
the letters that were soon carried by the wind to the whole land.
The animals were all very excited to get the letter, and most of them were
to take part in the race.
The cat, who had been sleeping all day long, was too lazy to read the letter,
a rat who happened to be there, what it was all about.
"There will be a race on the second day of the coming year. Be prepared
to take part in it and don't oversleep!" he shouted to the dozing
The cow, who knew that he was slow, decided to take off at midnight when
still asleep. He took care not to make too much noise, but the clever rat
knew all about his plan. He climbed and sat silently on the back of the
cow, feeling quite happy and
On the day of the race, the animals wake up very early in the morning before
the sunrise. Frogs, elephants, monkeys, bears, giraffes, dogs, tigers,
cocks, snakes, all started to run to the direction of the Master's house.
There were fights between the dogs and the monkeys who blocked each other's
way, tumbling and pushing all over. Snakes hissed at each other, tigers
howled, and everybody
ran with all their might accross the valeys and the rivers.
Soon the sun began to appear at the horizon.
The cow, who was at the head of the race, was very excited when he saw
the house of the
Master only a few distant away. "I'm the winner!" he shouted
happily, heading straight
to the Master who was standing there waiting for the animals.
"Happy New Year, Master!" suddenly there was a shrill shout.
The cow was so surprised to see that a rat was right there in front of
him, greeting the
Master proudly. The rat had been riding on the cow's back all the way,
down just at the right moment to be the first one to arrive at the Master's
So it was that the rat became the first leader of the year, followed by
the cow, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, cock, dog,
The others animals who lost the race went back to their dwellings, while
the 12 winners
became the guests of honour. The Master entertained them with all sort
of delicacies and drinks, and named the coming years after their names,
beginning with the year of the rat
Suddenly there was a terrible noise. A cat came in with a loud cry and
He jumped in and started chasing the rat, swearing and shrieking that he
was going to kill him for cheating about the race's date.
The cat was so angry that he was not included at the naming of the year,
so that even today, cats never stop to chase rats whenever they are in