Hello, This is Jana, and I’m here with a story for the Chinese Year of the Ox, which starts on February 12, 2021. If you were born 12 years ago, in 2009, the Ox may well be your star sign.
An Ox is a large animal that looks like a bull, but he is generally patient, hard-working, and easy going. And people who are born in the year of the Ox are said to be like that too!
If you have heard our story, the Chinese Year of the Animals, you will know that the Ox is the second animal in the Chinese Zodiac. You may recall that all the animals took part in a swimming race to decide what order they should come in. The powerful Ox was the strongest swimmer, and he kindly allowed the rat to ride on his back. But when he was close to the other side of the river, the sneaky rat jumped off the ox’s back and arrived first.
So how is it that humans are so fortunate as to have this strong and useful animal to help them grow food? This story gives you the answer.
In the old days, the Ox lived among the stars with the gods and worked as a messenger. If the Jade Emperor, who ruled heaven and earth, wanted to make an announcement to humankind, he would send the ox to deliver the message.
Now one day, the emperor looked down at the earth, and saw how miserable human beings were feeling, because they did not have enough to eat. The gods, of course, had everything they wanted to eat, and more, and it occurred to him that it would be nice if people could eat more often too - at least once every three days.
In order to make things better for the humans, he decided to sprinkle the earth with more frequent rain, so that the crops would grow faster. He thought to himself that when the people learned about this kind gesture, they would love him even more. He summoned the Ox to his throne room, and commanded him to travel down to earth and announce the happy news.
The Ox bowed and went on his way. He flew down to earth and found a good position on the top of a high hill, where he could make his proclamation.
“Hear, now, hear now. All you hungry People of the Earth,” he bellowed out in his deep and mellow voice, “His Serene Majesty, The Jade Lord, the Most High Emperor of the Lands of Pure Happiness, and Majestic Heavenly Lights and Ornaments, orders the people of the Earth to work hard on the land, each and every day. Put your backs into your work, and do not laze or loaf around. In return for your hard work, he wishes to inform you, that henceforth all humans will enjoy three good meals a day. Work hard, be happy, and never go hungry!”
Of course, when the people of the Earth heard the bull of heaven announce this divine message, it filled their hearts with joy. They danced, sang and celebrated, sending their praises up to the heavens where the Jade Emperor sat and smiled on his throne.
“Well that went down pretty well,” the emperor told himself.
He summoned the Ox to his throne to give him his thanks.
“Well done Ox,” he said. “It seems that the people of Earth are delighted to be able to eat once every three days. It’s not so hard to please them. I don’t know why I didn’t think of this plan before.”
And then the Ox realised that he had made a mistake.
“Oh Majestic Lord,” he said bowing deeply, “I think I must have got in a teeny weeny bit of a muddle. I think I told them that if they worked hard they could eat three times a day.”
“What!” exclaimed the Jade Lord jumping to his feet!
The bull knelt down even lower to the ground, “My Lord, I have messed up, I am so sorry, I will not do it again.”
“You Bovine Dimwit!” shouted the Emperor, and so saying, he grabbed the Ox by his horns and flung him down from the heavens all the way to earth. The poor Ox landed with a crash and shattered his upper teeth - which is why to this day cows and Oxen have no upper teeth - merely a hard leathery pad which they use to chomp on grass.
Ever since that happened, the Ox has been making up for his mistake. He has been patiently and goodnaturedly pulling ploughs, waterwheels, and wagons. Humans have been blessed to have the good natured Ox help them farm the land and grow food, but as you now know, it was all because of a silly mistake when the Ox muddled up a message from the Jade Emperor.
And I'm delighted to dedicate this story to Sophia and Jonathan in Canada. They are 7 and 4 years old, and they love to listen to storynory in the car and have heard some of our stories many times over - and we are wishing their family a Very Happy New Year - especially as they tell us that their mum is Chinese. And to all our listeners we wish you all a very happy lunar new year of the Ox.
And if you do plan to celebrate Chinese New Year - and you should - there are some traditions that you should know about. Never cut your hair at Chinese New Year because that could represent cutting your life short. Also, it’s supposed to be particularly lucky to eat fish - but don’t eat it all - leave a bit on your plate so that you will always have more than you need in life.
Wishing everyone a very prosperous and fortunate New Year!
And if you would like to support Storynory on Patreon, we are uploading some special content that is aimed at listeners who are slightly older - so that all your family can get the most out of Storynory. Just go to patreon.com forward slash storynory.
For now, from me Jana at storynory.com, bye for now.