Chinese Zodiac is called 生肖(shēngxiāo). 生(shēng) means birth and 肖(xiāo) means resemblance. There are twelve animals in 生肖(shēngxiāo). Yet where did this idea come from?
A convincing theory maintains that using animals to symbolize years started with the totems used by minorities in ancient China. Different tribes had different animals as their totems. Gradually, these animals were used as a way to remember the years in order. As the changes took place between the hinterland and the border regions, the custom of using animals to designate years made its way to the hinterland and was adopted by the Han people, the largest national group in China. Thus, Chinese people began to rotate the twelve animals to represent each year.
If someone often stays up late and likes to sleep during the day time, you might hear Chinese people say something like this to him: “你一定是属猫的(Nǐ yídìng shì shǔmāo de) -Your Chinese animal sign must be Cat”. But why is that? It is because he behaves like a cat, moving around at night and sleeping during the day. Moreover, Chinese often use “鼠猫的(shǔmāo de)” to describe a person who is curious.For example, we have an idiom that goes like “好奇害死猫(Hàoqí hàisǐ māo),” meaning curiosity kills the cat.
But why are cats not included in the Chinese zodiac at all? One explanation is that both cats and tigers belong to the cat family; it is unnecessary for the cat to be added to the Chinese zodiac since the tiger is already there.
1. If someone likes to sleep during the daytime, you can say he is a __?
2. What does an animal sign mean in Chinese?