What is the Chinese zodiac?
Known as Sheng Xiao (生肖) in China, the zodiac consists of the 12 animal signs designated to the 12 earthly branches in China, including Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig. Each of the animal signs is related to the Chinese lunar calendar, based on a twelve-year cycle. 2019 will be the Year of the Pig, beginning on February 5th 2019 (Chinese New Year) and running to January 25th 2020.
What is the origins of the Chinese zodiac?
The first mention of the zodiac can be found in the Book of Odes (Shijing, 诗经). At one point, the poem in Shijing Xiaoya Jiri (小雅·吉日) says: "Auspicious Geng Wu is a good day for horse hunting". This was the first juxtaposition of the Wu (午) character and the Horse. The method of counting years using the Chinese zodiac originated during the time of the Southern and Northern dynasties (240-589 AD). Yu Wenhu in his biography discussing the Northern dynasty’s history, records a letter from his mother saying: "I gave birth to your two brothers in Wuchuan Town. The zodiac of your eldest brother is Rat and the other brother, Rabbit. Yours is Snake". So, the zodiac was already used to mark the years at that time. To this day, there is no clear evidence as to the origins of the Chinese zodiac. It has, however, continued to be valued and used as a mascot of Chinese New Year and a symbol of festive celebrations.
Why is the Cat not listed among the 12 Animal Signs?
Where is the cat? There are many folk stories about this topic. The practical reason, however, is that there were no cats in ancient China. Cats originated in ancient Egypt, and the Chinese zodiac existed before they were brought to China. In addition, tigers and cats are part of the same biological family, so actually a member of the cat family still has a place in the Chinese zodiac. All of this helps to show that the selection of animal signs was not arbitrary. On the contrary, everything had a reason; though there were different ways of looking at the choice.
This was the basics of information about The Chinese Zodiac. I have been curious about them myself so I decided to do some research. I have looked up my own Sign, and it was actually pretty true! Why not search up for yourself to see which one belong to YOU? It can tell very much about yourself, your personality, your future, etc...! And even if you do not believe in all of this, it can be fun to just look up. It was fun for me.~