12 animals were having an argument. There was a dog, a pig, a rat, an ox, a tiger, a hare, a dragon, a snake, a horse, a ram, a monkey and a rooster.
It was coming up to the New Year and they all thought the New Year should be named after them. The arguing went on and on. Can you think of all the sounds the animals were making? It should be the year of the Dragon since I am the fiercest. Youre both wrong. It should be called after me, since Im the smartest! No! It should be named after me … Im the best climber!
What are you all arguing about? The Wise Man wanted to know why they were arguing. All the animals started to tell him at once and the noise got worse. He told them to have manners and speak one at a time. So one by one, the animals all told him why they wanted the new year to be called after them. The Wise Man thought about what he had heard and tried to think of a way to solve the problem.
The Wise Man looked across the land and saw a river. I know, he said, Ill hold a swimming race and the first one of you to cross it will have the New Year named after them. So all the animals lined up on the riverbank. Ready, steady, go! said the Wise Man and they all jumped in. The ox was the best swimmer and thought he was going to win. The rat was not a good swimmer but he was smart. He grabbed the oxs tail and climbed up the oxs back and rested on its head.
The ox started to laugh at the others. As he laughed, he swallowed some water. This made him cough and he had to stop swimming to catch his breath. The rat could see the riverbank and made a big leap off the oxs head and landed on the grass. Im the winner!
As the rat was the first animal to get to the other side, the Wise Man said the year would be called The Year of the Rat. The ox was second, so the next year would be The Year of the Ox. One by one, all the animals finished the race.
The tiger was third. The hare was fourth. The dragon was fifth. The snake was sixth. The horse was seventh. The ram was eighth. The monkey was ninth. The cockerel was tenth. The dog was eleventh. The pig was twelfth. Well done to you all, said the Wise Man. We will call a year after each of you in the order that you finished the race. The animals were all happy and agreed with the decision. And that is how the years got their names!