The first category includes the six kinds of tamed animals such as the ox, goat, horse, pig, dog and rooster, accounting for half of the zodiac animals. They are raised by people for economic or domestic purposes. These animals form an important concept in China’s agricultural culture. In the traditional philosophy of the Chinese people, the prosperity of these animals means the prosperity of their families. On Spring Festival, people usually mention “prosperity of the six domesticated animals.” Thus, it is natural for the animals to be among the 12 zodiac animals.
The second category are wild animals that are familiar to people and closely related to people’s daily and social life. They are the tiger, rabbit, monkey, mouse and snake. Some of them are awed by people and interfere with people’s lives, such as the tiger and snake; some are hated by the people but they must depend on human race for a living, like the mouse; there are also the animals people like, such as the rabbit and monkey.
Dragon, the traditional symbol and mascot of the Chinese people, falls in the third category: mythological creatures. The symbol of the Chinese nation is actually made up and does not exist in nature. It is an animal of luck that exists only in people’s imaginations. Dragon represents wealth and auspiciousness with symbolic status. Thus, it is natural for the dragon to be included among the 12 zodiac animals.