Celebrate the Year of the Ox!
I found this marvelous article on Life&Leisure by Joseph Yeh Taiwan News, Staff Writer: The Year of the Ox bodes well for the world
The Lunar New Year heralds the reign of a hard-working animal
"Bid farewell to the global economic downturn brought on in the Year of the Rat, and get ready to embrace the upcoming Year of the Ox. The second animal in the twelve Chinese zodiac signs began its year-long reign on Monday, the first day of the Lunar New Year.
The Chinese zodiac consists of a twelve-year cycle, with each year represented by a different animal. According to the Lunar calendar, the twelve animals in order are: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig.
In terms of the Lunar Calender, 2008 was represented by the Rat, while this year, 2009, will be the year of the Ox.
Though not entirely identical with the Greek zodiac, the Chinese zodiac shares with it the duodecimal system and the idea of using animals as numerical symbols.
Scholars have different views regarding the origin of using animals representing a year in the Chinese calendar. Some hold that the system originated in the prehistoric worship of animal totems in ancient China, while others believe that the twelve-animal cycle was imported along the Silk Road from Buddhists in Khotan, Sogdiana, and India.
But if you ask a Chinese person, he or she will tell you that the most widely-known reason for the origin of the animal cycle and its order is a bedtime story about a legendary "Great Race of the Chinese Zodiacs."
According to the legend, a long, long time ago the Jade Emperor - the supreme god and ruler of the heaven in Chinese mythology - invited all the animals in creation to take part in a race. The prize for the first twelve animals to finish the race was an opportunity to appear on the Chinese Zodiac calendar in the order in which they completed the race.
Surprisingly, at the end of the great race, the first animal to across the finish line was the rat, a seemingly unlikely scenario given it was such a small animal and the race was so strenuous.
The legend explains that the rat used his brain to win the race and a permanent position in the Chinese calendar. A poor swimmer, the rat talked the honest and simple-minded ox into taking it across the river on the ox's back. As they approached the finish line, the rat jumped off the ox's back and zipped across the line, putting it in first place in the race. The ox, which should have won the race, came in second and as promised in the legends and mythology, was the second animal listed on the Chinese Zodiac."... further reading,
Happy Chinese New Year!
Today Barefoot Books is heralding in the Year of the Ox, the Chinese zodiac animal that symbolizes calm, patience, honesty and hard work. Sounds like the makings of a great year for them!
You and your young ones can learn all about the story behind the Chinese zodiac (not to mention the Chinese calendar, the festivals, and what animal YOU are!) by checking out their book, The Great Race. You'll be able to download their fun zodiac-themed activity on how to make Chinese paper lanterns!
Dawn Casey, the author of The Great Race, says "I strongly believe in the archetypal power of myth and folklore — they deal with the most profound questions of humankind. The stories we read in childhood shape our internal landscapes, and stay with us forever."
Further reading about this author
The Story of the Chinese Zodiac
Written by: Dawn Casey
Illustrated by: Anne Wilson
New in Paperback! Also available in Hardcover.
Which animal will win the race and get the first year of the Chinese calendar named after them?
Race long with Rat, Monkey, Dragon, and their companions while discovering the origin of the Chinese Zodiac. This bright and colorful book includes intriguing notes about the Chinese calendar, the festivals, and the animal that rules each year.
Anne Wilson is the illustrator for The Great Race and she says, "I enjoy creating characters and telling narratives through my images." Further reading
"Prepared in collaged papers with acrylic and printed backgrounds, Wilson's creatively stylized folk art gives this retelling of an ancient legend a distinctive look. Youngsters will likely enjoy the final spread, which lists the years that fall under each respective animal, and the characteristics of people born under that sign. - Publishers Weekly
Click Here, The Great Race
"In this retelling of the ancient legend, Casey maintains the pace well. Back matter includes information about the Chinese calendar in general, as well as the more specific Dragon Boat Festival and Moon Festival. The book is a visual treat, with illustrations in simple collage designs on acrylic and painted backgrounds placed in such a way as to keep the eye engaged and moving. The palette is a pleasing mix of intense and muted tones. An attractive addition for most collections." - School Library Journal
"In The Great Race, Anne Wilson's whimsical collages even include baubles hanging from the trees on the riverbank, capturing the joyous spirit of this story about the Chinese Zodiac."- ForeWord Magazine
"Playful color illustrations by Anne Wilson add an enthusiastic touch to this adventurous narrative, rounded out with fun facts about the Chinese calendar and Chinese astrology."- The Midwest Book Review