Once upon a time there was the Jade King. He wanted to see a representation of earth's animals so he sent out invitations for specific animals to come to his court. The rat was given two invitations, one for himself and one for the cat. The rat being the devious and clever sort decided not to give the cat his invitation.
The other 11 animals that were sent invitations showed up at court. The King wanted to know where the 12th animal was so a messenger was sent to earth to get one more animal. The pig was given the last invitation. These animals were, and still are, the representations of the 12 Chinese zodiac signs.
The 12 Chinese zodiac signs are the rat, ox, tiger, dragon, dog, pig, ram, goat, rabbit, snake, horse and monkey. The Chinese zodiac sign for each of these animals is representative of a certain year. The Chinese zodiac works on a twelve year rotation with 2008 being the year of the rat. This is serious business for true believers in the Chinese zodiac.
With zodiac signs there are many factors that people read up on everyday. They look for their daily horoscope to see what the day may hold for them in the way of financial decisions, details on how their day or month will go and even about compatible zodiac signs for their love interests.
Some people take these readings lightly, while others believe whole heartedly in what their readings say. Could it be a case of prognostication coming through because of the power of belief in the reading? With zodiac signs, there is a devout following in both China and the rest of the world.
The compatibility between the zodiac sign of an individual and that of a romantic interest is probably the most sought after information. People base their entire romantic decisions and mates based on zodiac sign compatibility. Many people pay for readings from such places as "Chinese Astrology" just to see how their romantic life will progress.
That poor cat did eventually show up, but alas, too late. All of the Chinese zodiac signs had already been assigned and his spot was given to the pig. The cycle had been set and he missed out on the opportunity just because of the tricky rat.
Maybe somewhere along the lines of history the cat got back at the rat; perhaps the cat put the rat in a hat, upon which he sat. Regardless, it still remains as something of interest, as far as mythological tales are concerned.