On the day of the race, the 12 animals put on their swimming trunks, goggles etc to prepare them for the greatest race of all time. Everyone thought dragon might win because she had impressive wings and could breathe fire. Some reckoned tiger would be in with a pretty good chance because she was so fast. But sure, dragon could fly, but she just splashed (a lot) and tiger, being a cat, didn’t like getting her paws and gel nails wet.
It was ox who reached the river bank first (yep, the one everyone thought was big and clumsy in the office, spilling the coffee). Why? She was the hardest working of all and despite the strong water currents, she continued to persevere. But there’s a twist to our tale, it was rat who was declared the winner. You see, as the race began, rat jumped unnoticed by everyone onto ox’s back, and just as ox reached the other side of the riverbank, rat jumped off ox’s back and strolled onto the bank. Buddha guy being wise and all that, spotted this of course but said “Rat is the smallest and doesn’t have the muscles of the ox, or the speed of the others, but used her head to solve a tricky problem”.
That’s why rat is first, ox second, and the last animal in the race, kind piglet boar (who helped rabbit across the river but kept getting distracted by rabbit’s cute, tickly nose and endless chatter and rabbiting on about eating more carrots), is last in the cycle. And so the rotating cycle of 12 animals for naming the years in China was established, with each animal year repeated every 12 years. To our animal heroes, we thank you for allowing us to inherit your unique animal personalities. We might attend a few more AGMs this year.