How did the order the Chinese Zodiac come to be, you ask? There have been many different folktales told of how the animals earned their position on the Zodiac.
A more commonly known tale is of a race ordered by the Emperor, for all the animals to compete and cross a river. Legend has it that the Emperor was looking for a format to calculate the year, month and day. On his birthday, this competition was held and it was affirmed that whichever animal reached the endpoint fastest would become the first animal of the Zodiac. Each animal had its own tactics and tricks to be first. Some say the winner (the Rat) cheated by using the Cow as a chariot when crossing the river. After this, the order was settled: rat, cow, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig - each representing a different year. A cycle of 12 years occurs before the Zodiac animal returns again. For instance, if you were born in the year 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008, you would be born in the year of the Rat. The Chinese Zodiac is also used to determine what year it is, according to the Lunar calendar.