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The Chinese Years of the Animals

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Chinese New YearWhat animal are you?

In Chinese astrology, each year is named after an animal, and if you are born in that year, you take some of that animal’s characteristics. This is the story of how each year go its name, and it also explains why there is no year of the cat, and why cats hate rats to much.

We thought you might like to look up your own year, and find out who you really are ! So we’ve included a chart in the text.

Read by Natasha. Duration 6.11

Animal Astrology

1996, 2008, 2020 – Year of the Rat
Rats are ambitious and very focused on their goals, but they are also fun and love gossip.

1985, 1997, 2009 – Year of the Ox
Oxen are loyal, dependable, determined, and perhaps a bit stubborn.

1986, 1998, 2010- Year of the Tiger
Tigers fight tooth and claw for what they want- but they also have a sensitive side.

1987, 1999, 2011 – Year of the Rabbit
Rabbits are diplomatic, honest, kind, and stick to agreements.

1988, 2000, 2012 – Year of the Dragon
Dragons bring good luck – so it’s great to have one as your friend.

1989, 2001, 2013 – Year of the Snake
Snakes are lovely, charming and perceptive.

1990, 2002, 2014 – Year of the Horse
Horses are bursting with energy and fun.

1991, 2003, 2015 – Year of the Sheep (Goat)
Sheep love a quiet life, and are peaceful easy-going souls.

1992, 2004, 2016 – Year of the Monkey
Monkeys are lively, clever and full of pranks.

1993, 2005, 2017 – Year of the Rooster
Roosters are extrovert and love to strut their stuff.

1994, 2006, 2018 – Year of the Dog
Dogs are kind, loyal, loving, and good listeners.

1995, 2007, 2019 – Year of the Pig
Pigs are great fun, really enjoy life, and love their friends and family.

One day, the Lord Buddha called all the animals to a meeting. He told them that he had decided to pick the 13 most faithful animals, and reward each of them with their own year.

As soon as the animals heard this, they began to quarrel among themselves about who should have the honour of the first year, the second, the third, and so on.

The Buddha decided to settle this squabble with a contest. He gathered the 13 animals on the bank of a gushing river, and told them that they must swim across to the other side. The first to arrive would have the honour of the first year, and the second to arrive would have the second, and in this way, the order of all the years would be decided.

The night before the contest, the rat went to see his best friend the cat to discuss the race. They both agreed that the contest was unfair to them, as both of them hated water, and neither were strong swimmers.

So the pair went to see the Ox who was very large and a strong swimmer. He was also extremely good natured, and he agreed to carry the rat and the cat on his back.

The next morning, most of the animals were up early in time to see the dawn spread her rosy fingers across the river. They limbered up for for the race, and very noisy about it they were too ! The Ox looked round for his friends, but he could not catch sight of the cat or the rat. So he stood by the bank of the river and was about to jump in with a great splash when the pair sprang out of the reeds and landed on his back. In this way, they set off into the deep, swirling waters of the river. Fortunately the Ox was powerful enough to swim across the current without any trouble, and soon the far bank was in sight. The cat crouched on the Ox’s head and swished his tail. The rat could see that his friend was getting ready to leap onto the bank ahead of them and take the first prize. He became so cross about this, that he pushed the cat into the water. Then he himself jumped onto the bank and won the honour of the first year for himself.

The Ox lumbered on, reached the bank just after the rat, and the second year was named after him. The Tiger was like a big cat, and hated water, but he had powerful muscles and managed to come in third. He was followed by the rabbit – who although he hated getting his ears wet – was very determined, and was helped by the dragon. The dragon was very concerned about the water getting into his nose and putting out his fire, but he managed to keep his head about water and took the fifth year.

The horse was about to come in sixth, but he reared back to avoid stepping on the snake who slithered in just ahead of him. So the snake was sixth and the horse was seventh.

Next came a raft with the sheep, monkey and the rooster who took the eighth, ninth and tenth places.

Quite a while later, the dog paddled ashore and shook himself so that he sprayed all the others who had just managed to get dry. The dog took the eleventh year.

Finally, after a long, long time, the pig made it to the bank. He had slept in late, and only just made it to become the 12th animal of the Chinese Zodiac.

And what became of the cat? He was swept downstream by the strong current of the river, and he very nearly drowned. Eventually, he was washed up onto the bank where they had all started, and he shivered and shook with cold and rage. And so there are 12, not 13 years in the Chinese calendar, and there is no year named after the cat. And if you’ve ever wondered why cats hate rats so much – now you know !

And that’s the story of how the Chinese years and signs of the Zodiac came to be named after 12 animals. What year were you born in? If you would like to see, drop by at where Bertie has written out a list of all the recent years and their characteristics in the text for this story.

For now, from me, Natasha

Bye Bye !

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125 Responses to “The Chinese Years of the Animals”

  • Nisha says:

    Hey I’m born in the year of the monkey that’s why I’m so naughty!

  • Nisha says:

    Hey, everybody, mighty guy’s magic is true,! Try it out! I picked 4, and added 2 &3 to it, and I got nine. Then I Minused the 4 and I got 5! So I tried it with a bigger number than 5. I took the number 77, added 2&3, and I got 92. And when I minused 77, guess what I got?
    See? You can do it with any number!!!

  • asmara says:

    january 1999.whats my name of year according to chinese?

  • asmara says:

    i was born in january 1999

  • yes says:

    it was good

  • Bertie says:

    Hi Mei thank you for a good point.

  • Mei says:

    Aw, cute story. I might be getting too technical for this, but just wanted to add that the year chart information can be inaccurate for people born in January or February, depending on when the Chinese New Year started. But such a cute story. Good job :)

  • Pearl says:

    please reply

  • Pearl says:

    hi bertie my father was born in 1951 what does it make him and my mother was born in 1980

  • Harry Styles says:

    I Am Harry Styles From One Direction.

  • @wongweezy says:


  • Siddh says:

    My dad was born in 1974 what does that make him?

  • Siddh says:

    Dear storynory some of these story are very dirty mostly “Out damned spot”

  • Unknown says:

    Me I’m year of da monkey lol my mom year piggy idk bout dad

  • George says:

    I’ve heard variations of this story many times over the year’s and still enjoy it.

    This very much a westernised and adapted version though..the original is well worth a read.

  • Bertie says:

    Dear Daniel, I think 2002 is a horse and 1969 is a rooster.

  • Daniel says:

    Hi Bertie. This version is very interesting! I all ways heard that 12 animals had a race and the buffalo was in first when the rat jumped onto his back then leaped off to the finish line. Also I was born in 2002 and want to know what amimal I am. My dad would like to know too. He was born in 1969. I could not find the link. Thanks agin for the story!!!!!

  • Cathlin says:

    I was bron on the year of the sheeeeeeeeep which means gaoooooooooooooooooooooooot!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • gaia says:

    I am the horse

  • [...] and joined Reception’s dragon parade on Friday. You can listen to the story we told on, Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. By trotwoodclass [...]

  • [...] “The Chinese Years of the Animals” , Natasha, Storynory LINK  [...]

  • Esha says:

    I am a horse, I sure do sound like one

  • chris says:

    Its my mummy’s year now

  • chris says:

    Its my mummy’s year

  • muna says:

    i think i like it i leasen to it evary night thank u

  • Anonymous says:

    i think its a good story i injoued it thank u

  • Bertie says:

    Dear Laurel, Many thanks for your version which is really interesting.

  • laurel says:

    eard the story much different. just another myth to read if your interested:

    a long time ago god asked his favorite animals to join him at a special banquet in which he would give each animal their own year. the rat, being as tricky as he was, fooled the cat into thinking the banquet was the day after it really was.
    the next night all the 12 animals lined up to walk to the great banquet. the rat told the ox that he was to tired to walk all the way and the ox kindly let the rat ride on his back. then when they were about to reach the palace, the rat hopped off the oxes’ back and was granted the first year of the zodiac. the banquet lasted for several hours and each of the animals love it, however the cat was sleeping and dreaming of a banquet that would never happen.

  • laurel says:

    i heard the story much different. just another myth to read if your interested:

    a long time ago god asked his favorite animals to join him at a special banquet in which he would give each animal their own year. the rat, being as tricky as he was, fooled the cat into thinking the banquet was the day after it really was.
    the next night all the 12 animals lined up to walk to the great banquet. the rat told the ox that he was to tired to walk all the way and the ox kindly let the rat ride on his back. then when they were about to reach the palace, the rat hopped off the oxes’ back and was granted the first year of the zodiac. the banquet lasted for several hours and each of the animals love it, however the cat was sleeping and dreaming of a banquet that would never happen.

  • I like the story very much.But i want to know that who was buddha.any ways nice story

  • Hamie says:

    if im born on the 11th of october what is my zodiac sign

  • Hamie says:

    I’m year of the rabbit which is annoying because i hate rabbits they freak me real bad anyway thanks for the info.!

  • Benjmin says:

    This is a very well told story,also it was really interesting.The three main things about the story are

    1. Very nice animals.

    2. It’s the original story.

    3. I like the bit when the dog made everyone wet.

    It happens that I’m Chinese myself!!!

  • tresh says:

    i dont think so……
    the story like a fairy tail i think…..
    could you fix this story????
    and try to create and write another story
    so that a kid, teenager specially adult’s can amaze it????? jejejej

  • Emma says:

    i em a monki i wos bun 2004/10

  • Bertie says:

    Thanks Beast, I’ve changed “fifth”

  • [...] be lucky and brave (according to horoscopes).You might also be interested in our story of how the Chinese years were named after animals. And if you like tigers, then try the poem. The Tyger (yes, it is spelt that way because it’s [...]

  • skakalakashamalakadingdongisbeast says:

    you spelled “fifth” wrong! and…


  • Labiba says:

    i’m the year of the horse!!!i’m love horses!!

  • Rachel says:

    That story was sad. But it showed a good point. the rat was being so mean, but the cat was cheating. The Rooster is mine; I’d like to know yours!

  • Bertie says:

    Dear Ju, I will try and do an edit.

  • Ju says:

    My 6 1/2 yr old daughter loves this story. But she did get confused when she heard that the rat pushed the “rat” (instead of the cat) into the water. Would be great if this misread word could be changed! Thanks for the stories.

  • rv says:

    DRAGONS ARE THE BEST!!!!!!!!! GO DRAGON also i love ur stories i listen to them every night

  • april says:

    i wish the cat was a year

  • [...] stories: How the years were named in a Chinese calendar: This is a story you could pass on to your future generation, or to make [...]

  • JJ says:

    The real Chinese story is pretty different:

    The rat forgot to wake the cat up, but saw the ox lumbering on, so hopped on him, and during the RACING contest, jumped off the ox just in time to come first on the zodiac, behind the finish line. When the cat woke up, he was soooo very mad!

  • Emma says:

    Oh and also my birthday is in three days! It is June 12 2003

  • Emma says:

    I’m glad I’m the year of the sheep or the goat!

  • aline says:

    merci g pu ecrire a la main cette histoire pour l’ecole merci beaucoup

  • Lucza says:

    year of the goat me and my mum are

    she loves the story


  • lucy says:

    Iwas boren in the year of the r?

    can u cess wot it is

  • Bertie says:

    Dear Arrg Man, Thank you for your version…. but stories do have more than one version…almost always.

  • arrg man says:

    info is all wrong

    The story of the zodiac
    Long ago, in China, the Jade Emperor decided there should be a way of measuring time. On his birthday he told the animals that there was to be a swimming race. The first twelve animals across the fast flowing river would be the winners and they would each have a year of the zodiac named after them.
    All the animals lined up along the river bank. The rat and the cat, who were good friends, were worried because they were poor swimmers. Being clever they asked the strong ox if he would carry them across the river.
    ‘Of course’ said the kind ox. ‘Just climb on my back and I will take you across.’
    The rat and the cat quickly jumped up and were very excited when the ox soon took the lead in the race. They had almost reached the other bank when the rat pushed the cat into the river leaving him to struggle in the water. Then just before the ox was about to win the race the rat leapt on his head and on to the bank to finish first.
    ‘Well done,’ said the Jade Emperor to the proud rat. ‘The first year of the zodiac will be named after you.’
    The poor ox had been tricked into second place and the second year of the zodiac was named after him.

    Shortly after the exhausted tiger clawed his way to the river bank to claim third place. Swimming across the river had been an enormous struggle for him against the strong currents. The Emperor was so delighted with his efforts that he named the third year after him.

    Next to arrive was the rabbit, who hadn’t swum across at all. He hopped across on some stepping stones and then found a floating log which carried him to the shore.
    ‘I shall be very happy to call the fourth year after you,’ the surprised Jade Emperor explained.
    Just then a kind dragon swooped down to take fifth place.
    ‘Why didn’t you win the race, as you can fly as well as swim?’ the Jade Emperor asked.
    ‘I was held up because some people and animals needed water to drink. I needed to make some rain,’ the dragon explained. ‘Then when I was nearly here I saw a poor little rabbit on a log in the water and I blew a puff of wind so that the log would float to the river bank.’
    ‘Well that was very kind of you and now you are here you will have the fifth year of the zodiac named after you.’

    The next thing the Jade Emperor heard was the sound of the horse’s hooves. Just as he was thinking the horse would be the next animal to arrive, a sneaky snake wriggled out from around one of the horse’s hooves. The horse was so surprised that he jumped backwards giving the snake a chance to take the sixth place in the race. The poor horse had to be satisfied with seventh place.
    Not long afterwards a raft arrived carrying the goat, the monkey and the rooster. They explained to the Emperor how they had shared the raft that the rooster had found. The goat and monkey had cleared weeds and pushed the raft to the shore. The Emperor was very pleased that the animals had worked together. He said the goat would be the eighth zodiac animal, the monkey the ninth and the rooster the tenth.
    The next animal to finish was the dog.
    ‘Why are you so late when you are one of the best swimmers?’ asked the Jade Emperor.
    ‘The water in the river was so clean that I had to have a bath on the way,’ explained the dog.
    His reward was to have the eleventh year named after him.

    Now there was one place left in the zodiac and the Emperor wondered when the last winner would come. He had nearly given up when he heard a grunt from the boar.
    ‘You took a long time to cross the river,’ said the Emperor to the boar.
    ‘I was hungry and stopped to eat,’ explained the boar. ‘After the meal I felt so tired that I fell asleep.’
    ‘You have still done well,’ said the Jade Emperor. ‘The last year of the zodiac will be named after you.’
    As for the cat who had been pushed into the water by the rat, he finally crawled out of the water but was too late to have a year named after him. He felt very cross with the rat and since then cats have never been friends with rats.
    From that day to this the Chinese Zodiac has followed this cycle of years named after these twelve animals.

  • tiana says:

    i am a snake 2001 and i am 9 years old sep 23 is my birthday

  • jake says:

    im year of the dragon yay!

  • ElizabethJA says:


    Just saying hello to this forum.


    web links

  • Lilian says:

    Thanks! Now I know how the sequence of animals were formed… It quenched my thirst of wondering why the smallest creature (rat) was the first one but yet the 5th one (dragon) is the most wished by most parents to have a dragon baby.

    Anyway, I’m very happy to be a Tiger! May this year of mine brings a roaring major success in my life and God grant me the desire of my heart…

  • april says:

    im kidding aboat the ox iam actually a tiger rrrrrrrrrrr !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!$@#$%****

  • april says:

    wuz up im bored here oh i am a ox thts so not cool

  • andrea says:

    not lmfao oh i’m also a tiger

  • april says:

    i wonder who else is a tiger like me

  • [...] year of the tiger This is a fable about the origin of the Chinese Zodiac, told via podcast by an English lady named Natasha. It’s from I am posting this because I want [...]

  • megan says:

    bit to long!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11

  • Kevan says:

    Year of the tiger!!!

  • Kevan says:

    Explains why I’m firce,I’m born in 1998!!

  • bob says:


  • Nialla says:

    it is so cool ti is my year!
    GO ME AND ANY ONE ELSE WHO IS A OX!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1111

  • SUZAN!!!! says:


  • Nialla says:

    it is so cool
    its my year this year
    GO ME AND ANY ONE ELSE WHO IS A OX!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • charlie says:

    yeah the story was graet i thought it was wonderful cant wait till my 12 brithday and right now im in school and im posting a message and im only year six and i cant belive it my year the ox gotta go now bye ahhhhhhhhhhhhh shitttttttttttt theeeeeeee teacher cuaght meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

  • charlie says:

    im the year of the rat wat year are you emily ? wow it 2009 yeaaaaaaaaaaaaah
    my dads the year of the rats my littleeeeeee brother is the year of the oxxxxx
    wooooooooooooooooooooooooo whoop whoop

  • Emily says:

    It was very interesting and I thought it was a well read.

  • cutie says:

    this is a really cool website!

  • brianna says:

    It was cool finding out all about the years and stuff like that.when I grow-up and have children I will read them that.

  • kev says:


  • pop says:

    sorry that was my brother!

  • pop says:

    I think it was vary good and who do you think was the best.

  • Rozina says:

    Hi iam 24 coming on to 25.
    I was looking 4 storys 4 my sisters little ones, and became hooked myself.
    when i was a very little girl, my mum never read me any storys. and when i lisen to nat it feels like its making up 4 it.
    For makin my bed time as nice as can be.

  • Rebecca says:

    I am born in the year of the tiger. but some of my friends are born in the year of Rabbit

  • sir john lAs says:

    i was born in the dragon

  • iemae says:

    what a poor cat!!!
    now i read this story i started to hate rats
    well i really don’t like rats for the first time but after i watched “fruits basket” i kind a started to like rats.
    but after reading this story i changed my mind!!
    by the way if you don’t mind!!!!!
    my zodiac is a monkey!!
    love the story!!!!
    am i rude!!!!????

  • Bertie says:

    Natasha is year of the dog

  • Mighty guy says:

    Bertie what zodiac is Natasha

  • Bertie says:

    Tim has so many brothers and sisters that it’s hard to say who is the most annoying

  • Mighty guy says:

    hey bertie does tim the tadpole have any brothers or sisters? If he does who is the most annoying and why????????? sorry if I ask too many questions I`m just curios

  • Bertie says:

    Let’s see. I thought of the number 2.


    Hey that’s magic ! I can’t wait to show that to Tim the Tadpole!

  • Mighty guy says:

    hey Bertie I know a magic trick! okay

    Think of a number between 1 & 5 ok now add 2 add 3 and take away the number you first thought of…..

    you end up with 5 don`t you ?……….

  • Bertie says:

    Hi Mighty Guy,

    Oh yes, I certainly have seen a dragon

    By the way, people born in the year of the dragon are meant to be lucky and to spread good luck to their friends.

  • Mighty guy says:

    Hey Bertie have you ever seen a dragon??

    I have one of my friends was born in the year of the dragon :p

  • Mighty guy says:

    I HATE THE RAT AND THE CAT!!!!!!!! :( :( :(

  • Bertie says:

    Hi Mighty Guy

    Actually, it was 1984 – I’m quite old for a frog. In fact, I already was engaged to be married to the Lovely Princess Beatrice when I was turned into one.

    Yes, I do have a regretful tendency to show off. Colin the Carp is always telling me about it . Sigh !

    Thanks for your comments !

  • Mighty guy says:

    bertie are you 11 years old? because you said you were born in the year of the rat which is the year 1996.
    anyway I heard the story how you got turned into a frog do you regret that you tried to show off (no offence!)?

  • Bertie says:

    Hi Mighty Guy

    Although I’m a frog, I was born in the year of the Rat in the month of the Bull (Taurus)!

  • Mighty guy says:


  • Mighty guy says:

    I have a question for ya bertie. What zodiac are you??

  • Mighty guy says:


  • kacy says:

    prov read cuz people wont understand

  • kacy says:

    im a rabbit a rabbitttt

  • kacy says:

    your really good at your diffrent voices and telling storys

  • Cassie says:

    Yay! Im a tiger! Im a tiger! Im a tiger!

  • Bertie says:

    Cassandra – Well Happy Birthday anyway !

  • cassandra says:

    hey that was awsome i am a rat but i am more like a mixed animal, or like a cat. :)

  • Bertie says:

    Hi Anon 2

    The people at the top, from left to right are:

    The Lovely Princess Beatrice
    Bertie the Frog
    Bertie When he was A Prince
    Tim the Tadpole

    More pics are here

  • Annonymous2 says:

    Bertie, just so I know, left to right, who are the people in the banner at the top of the screen? The one thats on every page and says STORYNORY KIDS AUDIO STORIES.

  • Bertie says:

    Hatem It depends on what year you were born in. Recent years are listed above.

  • Hatem says:

    i want to know what animal am i

  • Bertie says:

    Hi Maya, You must have missed that bit. Natasha said

    He was followed by the rabbit – who although he hated getting his ears wet – was very determined, and was helped by the dragon.

  • maya says:

    You did not say anything about the rabit!

  • Bertie says:


    Certainly you can – we really like people to use our stories in schools. Thanks for asking though.

  • Ahsan says:

    Hey ,,i want to use this story in school… is it alright?

  • Bertie says:

    Hi Keith, I’ll pass that on next time she’s down at the pond !

  • Keith says:

    Thank Natasha for me, Bertie. :)

  • Emily says:

    I uesd this in my teaching

  • Bertie says:

    Hi Saffron-Sheryl,

    Colin and I like each other really – most of the time.

    Bye !

  • Saffron-sheryl says:

    Wow…Nice story Bertie…
    Just want to know I you are getting on well with Colin..

    See ya next time bye

  • Porfi says:

    I liked it, it seems interesting :)

  • Bertie says:


    Really glad your daughter liked the story. Please send her Natasha’s best wishes.

    You are certainly welcome to use the story in your class – either to play the audio, or to tell it yourself.

  • Keith says:

    Hi Natasha,

    My daughter loves listening to Story Nory. Thanks for all the hard work. She particularly liked this story, since she was born in China.

    I am a religious educator here in the United States, and I would like to tell this story for the children on Chinese New year, with your permission.

  • Bertie says:

    Hi Harpreet

    Leo July 23 – August 22
    Virgo August 23 – September 22

    Hope this helps !


  • harpreet says:

    my date of birth id month of august that is 8th month of the year……what ‘ll the my zodiac sigh say/s

  • Bertie says:

    Thanks Sibyl – I’ve changed the “rat” into the “cat”

  • Coreen says:

    Thanks for the story. Needs some proof-reading!

  • Sibyl says:

    Shouldn’t this “rat” be cat instead in this sentence?

    He became so cross about this, that he pushed the rat into the water.

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