The Explainer is where we explain an aspect of Chinese life. Simple. So now you know.
There are various versions out there as to why the 12 animals were selected for the Chinese zodiac. You may already know the most renowned one (the great summoning of the Jude Emperor) from last year's Explainer. Well, here's how pig got involved, and snagged the last spot.
On the day of the great meeting, the animals rushed to meet the Jade Emperor to race to determine the order of the zodiacs. The competition was fierce for the first few places, and many animals were so close extra games were held to determine the exact rankings (the Rabbit and the Dragon raced off for the fourth place and the Dragon lost).
When the dust cleared, and the first 11 positions had been claimed, there was still one spot left to be filled in. The Jade Emperor waited and waited, but no contender showed up. Just when he was about to call it a day, he was interrupted by an oink and squeal. The Pig slowly came out of the wood and strolled to the bank, becoming the last in the zodiac cycle.
It turned out the Pig got hungry halfway. Without hesitation, he paused from the race and started to hunt for something to fill his belly. After swilling out, the Pig took a well-earned nap. Despite his lazy day, and fortunately for him, when he reached the finish line there was still one place left for him. (The spot could have belonged to the Cat. However, the Cat got tricked by the Rat and overslept that day).
Based on this legend, ancient Chinese people came to connect the Pig with character traits like sloth and gluttony. Meanwhile, the Pig has gradually become the sign of fortune and affluence.
Pig Birth Years
1911, 1923, 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019
What are they like?
Gentle, friendly, upright, just, straightforward, kindhearted, generous, diligent, romantic while impulsive, stubborn, temperament and gullible.
Pigs make excellent...
Teachers, singers, dancers, farmers, actors, veterinarians, tour guides, general managers, doctors, government officials and police officers.
Most compatible with...
Rabbits and Goats
Mortal enemies with...
Due to the Pig's nature of laziness, the number of Chinese idioms with the Pig is limited, and most come with negative connotations. You can find some examples here:
猪突豨勇 zhū tū xī yǒng: "As courageous as pigs and as brave as boars." Meaning: Those who are too reckless to think of possible results.
一龙一猪 yī lóng yī zhū: "One is as successful as the Dragon, and the other is as incompetent as the Pig." Meaning: The difference between two people are too obvious to be neglected.
牧猪奴戏, mù zhū nú xì: "Things only slaves who raise pigs would do." Meaning: Gambling.
猪朋狗友, zhū péng gǒu yǒu: "Pigs for friends and dogs for pals." Meaning: Disreputable companions.
人怕出名猪怕壮 rén pà chū míng zhū pà zhuàng: "Fame begets troubles for people just as fat incurs butchering for pigs." Meaning: One should sometimes learn to keep a low profile.
Ronald Reagan, Henry Alfred Kissinger, Elvis Presley, Julie Andrews, Luciano Pavarotti, Alain Delon, Woody Allen, David Bowie, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Hillary Clinton, Earvin Johnson, Patty Jenkins, Emily Blunt, Kate Mara, Pepe and Chris Hemsworth.
[Cover image via Unsplash]
Click here for more The Explainer.