There are thousands of Chinese stories, fables, myths and rhymes. The children have enjoyed a few of these in our assemblies. Here you will find the story of the Great Race. Don’t forget to scroll down to the bottom of the page to find out more.
The Story of the Great Race
An ancient folk story tells that The Jade Emperor had decreed that the years on the calendar would be named for each animal in the order they arrived across a river. Rat decided that the best and fastest way to cross the river was to hop on the back of Ox. Being good-natured, Ox agreed to carry him across. However, as Ox neared the other side of the river, Rat jumped ahead and reached the shore first. So Rat claimed first place in the zodiac.
Following closely behind was strong Ox who was named the 2nd animal in the zodiac. After Ox, came Tiger, panting, while explaining to the Jade Emperor how hard it was to cross the river with the strong currents pushing him downstream all the time. But with his powerful strength, Tiger made to shore and he was named the 3rd animal in the zodiac.
Suddenly, from a distance came a thumping sound; the Rabbit arrived. He had crossed the river by jumping from one stone to another. The Rabbit became the 4th animal in the Zodiac cycle. In 5th place was the Dragon. The Jade Emperor wanted to know why a swift creature such as the Dragon failed to reach first place. The Dragon explained that he had to stop and make rain to help all the people and creatures of the earth, and so he was held back. The Jade Emperor was very pleased with the actions of the Dragon, and he was added into the zodiac cycle. As soon as he had done so, a galloping sound was heard, and the Horse appeared. Hidden on the Horse’s hoof was the Snake. The sudden appearance of snake gave the Horse a terrible shock, and made him rear up in fright. Snake got the 6th spot, while the Horse got 7th.
Not long after that, a little distance away, the Goat, Monkey, and Rooster finished the race. They had helped each other to get across the river. The Rooster spotted a raft, and took the other two animals with it. Together, the Goat and the Monkey cleared the weeds, and they all pulled and got the raft to the shore. Because of their team work, the Emperor was very pleased and named the Goat as the 8th in the zodiac, the Monkey as the 9th, and the Rooster the 10th.
The 11th animal was the Dog. Although dog was supposed to be the best swimmer, he could not help but play in the river and almost didn’t make it to the finish line. Just as the Jade Emperor was about to call it a day, an oink was heard from Pig. He had gotten hungry during the race, stopped to eat and then fell asleep! After his nap, the Pig continued the race and was named the 12th animal of the zodiac cycle.
For more stories and rhymes try: