The "Great Race" is a legendary story from Chinese folklore that explains the origin of the Chinese zodiac animals and their order within the 12-year cycle. According to the story, the Jade Emperor, the ruler of heaven in Chinese mythology, decided to hold a race to determine the order of the zodiac animals and create the calendar.
The story goes as follows:
The Jade Emperor invited all the animals in the world to participate in a race across a river. The order in which the animals arrived on the other side of the river would determine their position in the zodiac cycle. The rat, who was clever and resourceful, asked the diligent ox for help to cross the river. The ox agreed, and as they approached the other side, the rat leaped off the ox's back and won the race by being the first to touch the shore.
The other animals followed in succession, each arriving in the order they are now associated with in the Chinese zodiac:
- Goat (or Sheep)
The "Great Race" story not only explains the order of the Chinese zodiac animals but also offers a playful and memorable way to remember the animals in their specific sequence. Each animal is believed to possess certain qualities and traits that influence the personalities of people born in their respective years.
It's important to note that the "Great Race" story is a part of Chinese folklore and mythology, and its purpose is to provide an origin story for the Chinese zodiac animals. It's a cultural narrative that has been passed down through generations and is often shared to teach moral lessons and celebrate the Lunar New Year, during which the Chinese zodiac plays a significant role.