According to myths, the twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac were selected through a race. This race is meant to create a time measurement for the people. There could only be twelve winners and in order to win, the animals had to cross a rapid current river and reach the finish line on the shore.
The Race to the Finish
There are many varieties of this story. Some say that the Jade Emperor called a race of animals on his birthday to create the Chinese zodiac. Others say that it was in fact, the Buddha who did. Nevertheless, both stories are essentially the same, excluding some minor details.
Originally, there was a cat and a rat, who hated each other with a passion. It’s hard to believe that they were once friends. These two were the worst swimmers in the animal kingdom, but they were both smart. They discovered that the fastest way to the river is to hop on top of the ox. The generous ox agreed to carry them across the river. However, the rat was so eager to win that he pushed the cat into the water; thus the cat never forgave the rat, and wasn't included in the race. Other variations of the story say that the rat just never told the cat about the race and did not even compete at all.
Afterwards the ox and the rat made it to shore. The rat jumped in front of the ox and came first in the race. The ox came in second and the tiger finished in third.
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