The Chinese New Year of the Pig
Dedicated to Penny
What's your year in the Chinese calendar ?
This is a story to celebrate the Chinese year of the pig.
According to Chinese Astrology, each year is named after an animal. There are twelve animals of the zodiac in all, and each takes it in turns to have their year.
There’s a story - which we recorded quite a while ago on Storynory - which explains how the years came to be named after animals. The Jade Emperor called a meeting of all the animals and the pig was the last to arrive . That’s why the 12th and last month in the Zodiac is always the year of the pig. The rat got there first by the way.
If you are born in the year of the pig, you might have a tendency to be late.
You are also likely to be soft hearted, artistic, refined, intuitive, intelligent, and well-mannered.
One of the most famous pigs in Chinese culture is called Zhu Bajie. He is a character in the epic novel, Journey to the West, and features in many Chinese cartoons and tv films as well.
Zhu Bajie walks on two legs and looks a little bit like a hairy man, but he has the head of a pig. He was once a god who lived in heaven, but he was always behaving badly and the Jade Emperor kicked him out. He fell down to earth and landed in a pig stye - when he emerged from the pig-filth he was part pig.
Zhu Bajie joined a Monk called Tang Xuanzang and his disciple, Sun Wukong, a Monkey Warrior. Together they travelled to India on a pilgrimage to seek Buddhist scriptures.
Sun Wukong was energetic and extremely skilled at kung fu fighting. He was good friends with Zhu Bajie but liked to tease him about his greed and laziness.
One day, when it was extremely hot, and the pilgrims were thirsty, The good Monk ordered the Monkey Warrior and the Pig to go and collect some fruit But the summer had been so long, scorching, and dry that most of the fruit in the land had shrivelled up on the trees. The pig and the monkey trudged along a stony farm track searching in vain for something nice and juicy to eat. The pig was sweating in the sun.
“I’m so tired,” the pig moaned.
The monkey continued to skip on ahead.
“There’s a stone in foot,” the pig complained.
The monkey took no notice.
“Oh, I’ve got a tummy ache,” the pig wailed.
The Monkey Warrior knew full well that the lazy pig was trying on one of his tricks, but eventually he became fed up of all the complaining and he turned around to his friend and said :
“Ok, Zhu Bajie, you win. Stay here. I will continue the search for fruit on my own.”
The pig was very pleased to hear these words. He settled down in the long grass in the shade, and soon was fast asleep, while Sun Wukong the Monkey Warrior went springing on his way.
Some time later, Zhu Bajie awoke from his pleasant dreams. He stood up and scratched himself. Still sleepy, he put his foot down on something. It was the end of a rake. When he stepped on it, the other end sprang up and flung a huge fruit directly at him. It was the most wonderful, cool, green watermelon. Zhu Bajie caught the watermelon in his arms and kissed and hugged it. He polished off the dust until it was beautiful and shiny. He was so happy he sang a little song.
(I might take a little bit from the Chinese cartoon here).
For a while he tried ever so hard not eat the mellon. He knew he should share it with his friends. But could not hold himself back for long . He took out his knife and cut out a slice of the mellon.
“I’ll just check that it’s an okay sort of mellon,” he said to himself, “I would not want to give my friends a bad sort of mellon.”
He wrapped his thirsty mouth around the delicate red chunks of watery fruit. MMMM it was so delicious. He just had to eat another slice. And another slice. And as you can guess, it was soon all gone, and the lazy pig went back to sleep.
Meanwhile Sun Wukong travelled far and wide, but could not find any fruit. When he returned to find Zhu Bajie, he saw, to his surprise, that watermelon pips and rind were lying all around the sleeping pig. He gave his friend a gentle kick.
“I’m back,” he said, “But I couldn’t find any fruit. How did you get on?”
“I dreamed sweet dreams and feel much better now, thank you,” said the pig.
“Tell me truthfully, asked Sun Wukong, if you found a fruit, would you eat it all yourself, or would you share it with your friends?”
“Why, I would share it of course,” said Zhu Bajie, “Don’t you know that I love my dear friends and want to share everything with you.”
“Well that’s good then,” said Sun Wukong, and the pair retraced their steps to look for Monk Tang Xuanzang. Along the way, the monkey played a sneaky trick on his friend. He had secretly picked up the melon rind and the pips. Every now and then, he dropped some the chewed melon in front of the pig’s feet.
“Whoops! “ The pig slipped on the melon rind and landed on his bottom. Ouch! That hurt! But he could not complain, because when he saw the rind, he realised that his friend and caught him him out for eating the melon on his own and then fibbing about it.
And the moral of the tale is an easy one - don’t be a greedy pig !
But if you or your friend is born in the year of the pig, don’t worry. Pigs have lots of good characteristics too ! Scientists have shown that pigs are some of the most intelligent animals around. They have good memories and can even solve simple puzzles such as dropping a wood shape into the correct slot - in fact, they’ll be delighted to show you just how clever they are just so long as you reward them with some scrumptious food.
And I’m delighted to dedicate this story to Penny from Canberra, Australia. Thanks so much for all the stories!
Penny’s family support us on Patreon, and when they got in touch last year, Penny was 7.