Chinese Zodiac History
Chinese Zodiac history has pretty much been lost over time. We do know that Chinese astrologers practiced their art thousands of years ago.
Birth of the 12 year Zodiac cycle
In traditional Chinese culture, 12 is an important number when calculating time. Ancient observers noted that there were 12 full moons in a year. The length of time between full moons is relatively constant. They also observed that the day could be divided into 12 equal parts. These observations led to the development of the 12-month lunar year and the 12-day watch. The Chinese began grouping years into twelve-year cycles, assigning each year an animal symbol.
Legend of Buddha and Zodiac Animals
Legend is that Buddha called a meeting of all the world’s animals to determine how to restore order to the world, but only 12 heeded his call. They came to represent the 12-year cycle, with each animal residing over a year in the order that they arrived to the meeting. As they traveled to the meeting, the strong ox was in the lead and only had a river to cross to come in first. Little did he know, however, that the cunning rat had hitched a ride on his back and became the first to arrive.
The twelve animals are: rat, ox tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig. The 12 animals associated with the years can be used to judge a person’s character. A person born in the year of a particular animal is said to have the traits of that animal.