Trivia about the 12 Animals of the Lunar New Year Cycle
The origin of the 12 animal signs is not very clear. But most legends credit Buddha (circa 563 – 483 B.C.) with the creation of the 12 animal cycle. Supposedly, he invited all the animals in jungle to visit him, but for some reason, only 12 animals showed up. To thank them, Buddha gave each animal a year which would be dedicated to that animal alone. The years were allocated in the order in which the animals arrived. The 12 animals appeared in this order: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, cock, dog and pig.
The cycle of the animals repeats itself every 12 years.
The Chinese calendar is based on the lunar year (orbits of the moon around the Earth). The Western calendar is based on the solar year (orbits of the Earth around the Sun). The two do not correspond exactly. Each Lunar New Year, therefore, begins on a slightly different date of the Solar Year.