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The Chinese Zodiac Signs Backstory

As set forth by Women' "The Chinese zodiac, also known as the 12 shengxiao or "born resembling," is a repeating cycle of 12 years, each one represented by a unique animal and set of personal and unique attributes. In addition to representing the year in which a person is born, each zodiac signifies a person's personality, fortune, and compatibility with other signs.

There is some speculation as to when the Chinese zodiac was developed and integrated into the Chinese lunar calendar. According to, historical records show that the lunar calendar was already in use during the Shang Dynasty in 14th cenury B.C. But according to History of Things, other archeologists think that the Chinese lunar calendar existed during the reign of Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of China who ruled during the 26th century B.C. The first record with the 12 zodiac signs come from inscriptions on a tortoiseshell dating back to the Shang Dynasty in 1760 B.C."

"The Legend Behind the Chinese Zodiac

The order of the animals in the Chinese zodiac comes from an ancient folktale with many variations and myths. One of the most widely known tales, according to China Travel Guide, is about the Jade Emperor who decreed a Great Race to the Heavenly Gates for the animals that would be named for each year on the calendar.

Legend has it that the Rat got to the river first and could not cross, so it hitched a ride on the Ox's back. As they approached the finish line, the Rat jumped off and dashed across, making the Rat the first animal in the Chinese zodiac (the Ox came in second).

The strong and prideful Tiger arrived third, exhausted from its journey against the strong currents. The Rabbit made it soon after, having crossed the river by nimbly hopping on stepping stones.

The majestic Dragon soared over the finish line in fifth place after stopping by a town to help villagers in need.

The Horse galloped across the river and was only a few strides away from the finish line when the clever and sly Snake slithered out from behind the Horse’s hooves, startling the Horse and claiming sixth place while the Horse got seventh.

Meanwhile, the Goat, Monkey, and Rooster managed to cross the river with teamwork. The resourceful Rooster found a raft, and the Goat and Monkey paddled while clearing weeds out of the way. They arrived together, and the Goat placed eighth, the monkey placed ninth, and the Rooster placed tenth. Despite being one of the strongest swimmers, the Dog took its time to frolic, play, and take a bath in the river, arriving in eleventh place. The Pig arrived last, having stopped to eat and take a nap, concluding The Great Race. Thus, the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac and their orders were decided."

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