There’s a traditional story about the animals. A long time ago, God told the animals to come to him on New Year’s morning, and he would select 12 animals in order of arrival, and make them the guardians of the human year. The animals were very excited and looked forward to the day. But, the cat didn’t know because it was taking a nap. It asked the mouse when the day was. The mouse lied to it, saying that the day was after New Year’s Day.
Finally, the cow started in the dawn because it was very slow. Then, the mouse rode on the back of the cow. When the cow arrived near the place God named, it was very happy because it was first. Just before it arrived there, the mouse jumped and it was first. So the cow was second. And then the tiger came and the rabbit, dragon, and snake arrived, and then horse, sheep, monkey, chicken, and dog. However, the cat didn’t come. After the cat learned what had happened, it hated the mouse. From this time on, mice have been afraid of cats.
The concept of this tradition is famous in Asia. The animals are considered as gods who protect the earth, and gods of direction. Their pictures can be seen in the graves of famous kings or generals like General Kim Yu-Sin. Many Koreans add meaning to New Year’s Day with the animal years, and this makes some people more excited about the coming year.
Jo Young-in -
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