The Year of the
Welcome to the Year of the Rabbit.
A time of prosperity in love and wealth.
A time of wisdom and enlightenment.
The Greatest Race.
In a far-off land, there lived a powerful ruler known as the Jade Empress. She was renowned for her wisdom, but one day she began to ponder on the mysteries of time.
She realized that there was no easy way for her people to measure the passing of the seasons, and so she devised a cunning plan. She sent word to all the animals of the land, inviting them to participate in a grand race.
The first twelve creatures to cross the finish line would have a year named after them and be remembered forever as symbols of the passage of time.
Rat got up early to win the race. On the way to the gate, Rat came across a river. Rat had to stop there because the current was too strong to cross.
After waiting a long time, Rat saw Ox about to cross the river and swiftly jumped into Ox's ear.
The diligent Ox didn't mind at all and simply continued. After crossing the river, Rat raced towards the palace of the Jade Empress.
Rather than say thank you on the other side, Rat dashed the finish with Ox not far behind.
That's why Rat is the first animal in the cycle, followed by the Ox.
Rat asked Ox for a ride across the river to the finish line, promising to repay the favor in the future. Of course, Ox, being so good-natured, agreed.
As they were nearing the finish line, Rat ungratefully jumped off the Ox's back and crossed the finish line first, leaving Ox behind.
Ox didn't mind, but other animals knew they could not trust Rat again.
Rat had won the race, but at what cost? The victory was hollow, and Rat’s reputation was forever tarnished by his ungrateful and deceitful actions.
Tiger had a strong start in the race and quickly established a lead with powerful strides and fierce determination.
However, as it approached the treacherous river ahead, a shift in the current caused Tiger to falter and lose momentum.
Despite this setback, Tiger managed to regain footing and continue in the race, determined to finish.
Although Tiger came in behind Ox, Tiger's determination and resilience were admirable and comes in at number three in the race to the Golden Gates.
Rabbit stumbled towards the finish line of the great race. Its legs felt like lead and its lungs burned with the effort.
Rabbit's foot slipped on a rock and it tumbled headlong into the river. Rabbit flailed helplessly, struggling to keep its head above water.
In that moment of need, Dragon came to the rescue, breathing out a great gust of wind that carried Rabbit to safety.
Rabbit clambered ashore and, with renewed strength, crossing the finish line in fourth place.
Rabbit never knew who had come to its aid, but it would always be grateful for the stranger's kindness.
Dragon, for its part, was content to finish behind Rabbit. It knew that true victory lay not in winning the race, but in the act of helping another in need.
And so, it disappeared into the crowd, its heart filled with the satisfaction of a job well done.
The Empress, confused by Dragon's failure to win (it did have the advantage of flight, after all), asked Dragon to explain what had happened.
Dragon, ever so charitable, was delayed by its efforts to extinguish a fire in a farmer's field and to blow the troubled Rabbit across the river to shore.
Touched, the Jade Empress inducted Dragon as the fifth animal of the zodiac.
Snake, with its cunning and wit, knew that the horse was considered the fastest of all creatures, and so it devised a way to hitch a ride.
As the race began, Snake quickly wrapped itself around Horse's leg, clinging tightly as Horse galloped ahead of the pack.
Horse, unaware of Snake's presence, ran with all its might. The other animals were in awe of the sight of Snake and Horse racing together.
As they were approaching the finish line, Snake slithered off Horse's leg and crossed the finish line, securing sixth place in the Chinese zodiac.
Horse, proud and majestic, had long dreamed of winning the great race and was determined to earn its place in the Chinese zodiac.
The day of the race had arrived and Horse stood at the starting line, its muscles tense with excitement.
The other animals, from Rat to Pig, looked on with envy, knowing that Horse was the one to beat.
With a blast of the horn, the race began and Horse took off like a thunderbolt, its powerful legs propelling it forward at a breakneck pace.
But just as Horse was about to cross the finish line, the sly Snake, who had been hiding on the horse's leg, slithered off frightened Horse.
Snake raced ahead to cross the finish line, leaving Horse in seventh place.
Goat, Monkey, and Rooster were having a party when Monkey said, "Let's all cross the river together!"
They eagerly piled into a boat and set off, but soon discovered that the current was much stronger than they had anticipated.
Monkey and Rooster were seized with fear, but Goat, ever the cool and collected one, put on some lively music and said, "Relax, my friends, we've got this."
With Goat at the helm, they slowly but surely navigated the treacherous waters. Monkey and Rooster, seeing Goat's unflappable demeanor, began to relax and trust in their journey.
As they reached the other side of the river, Monkey and Rooster were filled with gratitude and let Goat go on ahead, taking eighth place.
Monkey and Rooster realized that the journey was more important than the destination and Goat's leadership had helped them to enjoy it.
In the boat ride with Goat and Rooster, Monkey had a cunning plan to trick the other two and race ahead once they reached the other side.
However, as they set off, the river proved to be far more intimidating than Monkey had anticipated and it was seized with fear.
Goat, sensing Monkey's distress, played a lively melody on its horns. Monkey started singing and dancing and was completely unprepared when Goat quickly crossed the finish line.
Monkey came in ninth place, it couldn't help but admire Goat's resourcefulness and quick thinking.
Rooster was suspicious of Monkey's intentions but when they stumbled in the swift current, Rooster panicked, unable to swim or fly.
But Goat played a lively tune on its horns, calming everyone, and Monkey sang a captivating melody along to it. The boat ride was no longer a scare, for music had filled the air.
As they reached the other side, the Rooster couldn't bring himself to be too upset with Monkey for outsmarting him.
After all, the monkey's music had saved him from certain doom, and for that the rooster was forever grateful. They had all worked together, and had a peaceful journey.
As Dog swam across the river in the great race, its fellow competitors watched on in awe, convinced that Dog's exceptional swimming skills would secure a sure victory.
Bets were placed and expectations were high, but as the race progressed, Dog found itself so elated by the joy of play that it paid little attention to the actual race.
Despite its natural abilities, Dog's lack of focus ultimately left it crossing the finish line in eleventh place.
The eleven winners waited alongside the Jade Empress, eager to see who would earn the final spot.
Their answer came in the form of a loud grunt.
Pig, left hungry by the treacherous river crossing, had stopped on the riverbank to search for food.
With a full belly, Pig decided to take a quick nap, only to wake in a fright, worried there would be no spots left to claim.