The Royal Canadian Mint has issued several series of Chinese zodiac coins. The Chinese zodiac is a 12-year cycle based on the traditional lunar calendar. Every year has an animal associated with it. The animalic Chinese zodiac symbols are representative of certain traits, and people born during that year are said to have the characteristics of that animal. An ancient story explains why each animal is included in the Chinese zodiac and why they follow a specific order.
What Animals Are Included in the Chinese Zodiac?
Chinese zodiac symbols comprise the following 12 animals, here presented in alphabetical order rather than in their traditional line-up:
Each of these animals has certain characteristics associated with it. Some of these symbolic associations are familiar because they are also common in Western cultures, e.g., the crafty snake, the diligent ox, the quick-witted rat, the fast and competitive rabbit. Other associations are particular to Eastern cultures, such as the good-looking dragon and the polite horse and goat.
What Is the Legend of the Chinese Zodiac?
The legend behind the Chinese zodiac began in the oral tradition. Therefore, there are many different versions of it. The central figure of the story is usually the Jade Emperor, an important figure in Chinese mythology. The Jade Emperor wanted to choose 12 animals to be his guards. To choose the most worthy animals and determine which rank each would have, he sent out word via a messenger about a great race to the Heavenly Gate. The first 12 animals that reached the Heavenly Gate would have the honour of being his guards. The order in which they passed through would determine their rank, with the first to reach the goal ranking highest and so on down the line.
On the morning of the race, the rat woke up very early to get a head start. To reach the finish line of the race at the Heavenly Gate, the animals had to cross a swift-moving river. The rat could not swim across by himself, but when the ox, who had also risen early, came along, the rat jumped onto its head, and the ox carried the rat across as he forded the river. The rat stayed on top of the ox until they reached the Heavenly Gate, then jumped down and scampered to the finish line first.
The tiger and the rabbit didn’t get up as early as the rat and the ox, but because they were both very fast, they made good time. The tiger was able to cross the river without difficulty because of its size, and the rabbit made it across by hopping across fallen logs and stepping stones. They were very competitive with each other the whole way, but the tiger was slightly faster and finished third, with the rabbit just behind in fourth.
Finishing in fifth, the good-looking dragon immediately caught the Jade Emperor’s attention. The Jade Emperor told the dragon that his son could be sixth. Though the dragon’s son had not come along, the snake overheard and claimed to be the dragon’s son by adoption and thus ended up ranking sixth amongst the Jade Emperor’s guards.
The horse and goat might have arrived sooner, but because they were both so modest and kind, they took turns letting the other go across the river. The Jade Emperor appreciated their politeness and ranked them seventh and eighth, respectively.
The monkey had fallen behind the rooster, dog, and pig. However, by jumping and swinging between the trees, he caught up and came in ninth. The rooster, dog, and pig ended up finishing 10th, 11th, and 12th.
A Chinese zodiac coin is a great gift to recognize a significant event. For example, an ox coin would be appropriate to commemorate something occurring in 2021, especially a new birth. Find a variety of Chinese zodiac coins available for purchase from Colonial Acres.