Why the Rooster Crows
Long ago, roosters sang just like all the other birds. They were very content with their lives, as they had colorful plumage and a beautiful pair of horns. One day, a dragon flew down into the rooster’s yard. Even though he had shiny scales and claws, whiskers and a flowing mane, the dragon was jealous of the rooster’s horns.
“Lend me your horns,” he said. “I am on my way to pay my respects to the dragon gods and horns are just what I need.”
“How do I know you will return them?” asked the rooster.
“You can trust me.” said the dragon.
“I can vouch for his honesty,” said a little worm. “As soon as you want them back, call out to the sky and he will promptly return them.”
“O.K.” said the rooster, “But I really would like to have them back this evening.”
The dragon agreed and roared away into the sky. And he never came back. The rooster was very angry. He waited until morning before he began to shout repeatedly, “Give me back my horns! Give me back my horns!” When that didn’t work he scratched the earth until he found the worm and ate him up.
To this day, roosters continue call out every morning in hopes of reclaiming the lost horns.
The Rat and the Ox
A powerful deity was in the process of choosing twelve animals so that years would have names. He had already selected all the animals and given positions to the tiger, hare, dragon and snake, when the rat and the ox began to argue who should be first.
Shaking his horns, the ox said, “Everyone knows I am big and strong. It is ridiculous that a tiny rat would even dare to compete with me.”
The rat replied, “I believe in my capabilities, regardless of my size.”
The deity suggested, “I will put the decision in the hands of your peers. Tomorrow you will present yourselves to the other animals and accept their verdict.”
The clever rat pretended to be in despair. “I must be a little bigger, so that the others can at least see me.”
The sympathetic ox knew he was one hundred times bigger than the rat and would always be stronger and larger. He agreed to let the deity double the rat’s size.
The next morning all the other animals were astounded and impressed by the size of the huge rat, but paid little attention to the ordinary ox. Since that day, the rat has come first in the Chinese Zodiac.