Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Story Of The Twelve-Year Animals

Does anyone know the history of the twelve-year animals in the Chinese zodiac? Or that the cat isn't one of them? Well, on Z's and my last day at BISS, I was in a play that told this story.

The ancient tale goes something like this...

Once upon a time, there were animals, people, and the Jade Emperor living on Earth. The animals and the Jade Emperor were very smart, but the people couldn't keep track of anything, especially the years. So the Jade Emperor gathered the animals on the day before the new year and decided to create a twelve year cycle where each animal would have one year. The only problem was that there were thirteen animals. One animal had to be eliminated. The Jade Emperor decided to hold a race the following morning, New Year's Day. The first twelve animals to reach the emperor would be the year animals.

Two of the youngest animals, the rat and the cat, who were best friends, decided to leave very early the next morning to win the race. But on the way to the emperor there was a large river and neither of them could swim. Fortunately, the ox was right behind them, so they caught a ride across the river. The rat, however, began to worry that the emperor would never notice the small creature. The rat desperately wanted to be the first year animal. As they reached the home of the emperor, the rat pushed the cat into the water and raced past the ox. The rat was the first animal to reach the emperor, so therefore became the first year animal.

The other animals began to arrive, but the cat didn't make it. Since then, the cat and rat have been enemies.

I had picked the rat as my animal for a Chinese project, so I was chosen to play the part in the performance. With two buns as my mousy ears and a Chinese jacket, I finished my last day of school at BISS with a memorable experience on stage.

~Julie

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