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  • Lio Salazar

Year of the Dragon: Ready, Set, Start

By: Lio Salazar

Tomorrow, Feb. 10, marks the beginning of the Lunar New Year, and for many Asian cultures, we’ll be entering the Year of the Dragon. If you’ve ever wondered what the Lunar New Year even is, fret not, as I’m here to walk you through it! While Western astrology has seasons throughout the year like Gemini and Aries, the Chinese zodiac assigns an animal to one lunar year and cycles through the 12 animals every 12 years. Also, while Western zodiac signs have individual stories for their origins, the animals of the Chinese zodiac all come from the same fantastical story. The “Great Race” tells of when the Jade Emperor set out to name each year on the calendar for the first 12 animals who crossed the finish line to meet him, which involved crossing the Mighty River. 

As the story goes, knowing they weren’t very good swimmers, Cat and Rat planned to hitch a ride on Ox to cross the river. When the day of the race came, the pair woke up early to get a head start. Catching up to Ox later on, Cat and Rat jumped on Ox’s back to cross the river. Rat then shoved Cat off, and, as Ox approached the edge of the river, Rat jumped ahead and crossed the finish line, securing the first spot on the calendar, with Ox being second.

The river posed issues for many other animals after, as Tiger secured the third spot after fiercely fighting the current. A gust of wind carried the log that Rabbit was on, landing them in fourth. After Dragon flew into fifth place, the Jade Emperor asked why a flying creature like them came fifth. Dragon revealed that they had to take a detour to bring rain to a village on the path and that they saw Rabbit struggling in the river, so they blew a wind to help them out. People born in 2000 are under the Dragon: this is your year. It is said that people born under the Dragon are charismatic, confident, intelligent and powerful individuals. 

Horse would have been sixth on the calendar had Snake not been wrapped around Horse’s leg. After crossing the river, Snake unwrapped themself and unintentionally scared Horse. Snake then took sixth, and Horse took seventh. Goat, Monkey and Rooster came in eighth, ninth and 10th, respectively, as they worked together to use a raft to cross the river. 

Those born in 2001 under the Snake are said to be diligent, intuitive and sensitive people. 2002 is the year of the Horse, and these individuals are active, energetic and high-spirited. 2003 belongs to the Goat, and those people are compassionate, intelligent and romantic. One of the years of the Monkey is 2004, and these individuals are adaptable, lively and quick-witted of the bunch. The Rooster oversees 2005, and attentive, hard-working and dependable are traits of the Rooster.

Dog was arguably the best swimmer of the zodiac, but Dog only came in 11th, because running the race got him rather dirty, and he took a bath to clean up before meeting the Jade Emperor. This still gave Dog enough time to beat Pig, as Pig had decided to stop for a snack and a nap before crossing the finish line, which, honestly, Pig is so real for that one. It is also said that after Pig took the last slot on the calendar, Cat made their way to the Jade Emperor, but there could not be a 13th animal on the 12-month calendar, thus beginning the feud between cats and rodents and concluding the tale of the Great Race.

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