Legend has it that one day Buddha invited all of the animals of the earth to a party. Only 12 animals actually showed up. To reward the animals who attended he named a year after each of them. The years were given to them in the order of their arrival. The first animal to arrive was Rat followed by Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat and Monkey. Eventually Rooster, Dog and Pig showed up. In fact, Ox would have arrived first, but Rat, who was riding on Ox's back, jumped off shortly before they arrived and ran ahead. Everyone agreed to the arrangement, so ever since every year has the characteristics of one of those twelve animals.