Heavensturn, our New Year’s equivalent in-game event, starts on January 1st, so check out the Lodestone for information on where to start the seasonal quest!
But what else is there to this event other than silly dialog and ferocious pups going at it for supremacy as their sculpted likeness sits atop your kabuto? Today, I wanted to take a look at the history behind all those different kabutos with the animals on top and what determines what animal gets to sit on your head in hilarious fashion.
Perhaps many of you already know what the event models; for those that don’t, the animal chosen corresponds to the Chinese Zodiac!
In Chinese Folklore, the Chinese Zodiac came into existence through The Great Race. The Jade Emperor, considered to be the first god in their mythology, held a race to determine which animals would be his guardians.
The first two animals to arrive were the ox and the rat. As the ox began to cross the river to reach the Gate of Heaven, the quick-witted rat leaped onto the ox and hung onto his ear. Once they were safely across, the rat dashed across the finish to become the first guardian, while the ox came in second.
The next two animals to cross were the tiger and the rabbit. Both are fast and competitive, but the tiger was faster. The rabbit was slowed crossing the river by having to hop on rocks and a floating log and came in fourth place.
The mighty dragon was the fifth animal to cross the gate. Impressed with this noble creature, the Jade Emperor declared that Dragon’s son could become the sixth guardian; however, the dragon’s son did not wake in time. Along came the snake, who slithered by and said he was the dragon’s adopted son. (Rather interesting that the snake is a crafty figure across different cultures!) Thus Snake became the sixth guardian.
The too-kind and polite Horse and Goat arrived next. Both insisted that the other go first and both were too modest to outdo the other. Pleased by these animals’ attitudes, the Jade Emperor stepped in and named Horse the seventh guardian and Goat the eighth guardian.
Furiously swinging from branch to branch, the much-late Monkey hurled himself through the air, over the river, to slide through the gate as the ninth guardian. Bringing up the rear were the tenth, eleventh, and twelfth guardians, the rooster, the dog, and the pig, respectively.
Thus the Chinese Zodiac was born.
Over time, the Chinese Zodiac came to represent the years and determine personality, luck, and compatibility matches in those who were born during the corresponding guardian’s year. It should be noted, however, that the Chinese celebrate the New Year on a different day than we do, since they follow a lunar calendar and a solar calendar. For the Zodiac, the Chinese use the lunar calendar. The New Year according to the lunar calendar starts some time between January 21th and February 20th. (The solar calendar starts on the first day of spring, February 4th or 5th, and is used for fortune-telling and astrology).
This charts itself back to the Four Pillars of Destiny, a practice of charting one’s fate through your birth into columns, or pillars. This practice is still used today from its approximate origins in the Han dynasty (201 BC — AD 220).
In addition to the year, your Zodiac sign is also influenced by one of the five core elements in Chinese culture: fire, water, earth, wood, and metal (gold). Fire Dogs, Water Dogs, etc.. all of these have 60-year cycles. This is the year of the Earth Dog. Your element and your birth year combined form a multifaceted picture of what, according to the Zodiac, your personality is and things you should avoid, or your lucky numbers, flowers, and even your ideal colors.
For example, I was born March 20th, 1988. According to my Zodiac report, I was born in the year of an Earth Dragon.
According to chinahighlights.com, the dragon has the following characteristics:
Among Chinese zodiac animals, the Dragon is the sole imaginary animal. The Dragon is the most vital and powerful beast in the Chinese zodiac, although with an infamous reputation for being a hothead and possessing a sharp tongue. In ancient times, people thought that Dragons could control everything in the world with their character traits of dominance and ambition.
Gifted with innate courage, tenacity and intelligence, dragons are enthusiastic and confident. They are not afraid of challenges, and willing to take risks.
However, the dragon is sometimes regarded as aggressive, and angry dragons are not open to criticism. They don’t consider themselves irritating and arrogant. Instead of following tradition, they strive for a smooth future.
With the ruling Earth element, dragons are also hardworking and ambitious.
To find out your Zodiac profile, and perhaps dive into some more Chinese culture, plug in your birthday here!
Of course, we know that personality is more than just a circumstance of your birth. But it’s certainly interesting to take a look into the cultural aspects of another country and see how their beliefs and customs shaped their history. The story of the Jade Emperor and the 12 Guardians was created centuries ago to coincide with a belief system designed to help people find fulfillment in life and to understand themselves better.
All of this culminates into a centuries-long history that still has an impact today, as seen in pop culture and our gaming environment.
What was your result? Better yet– what does it say about your compatibility with your best friends and/or your partner?
Thanks for tuning in! Hope you enjoyed a little side dish of extra-curricular culture inspired by FFXIV Lore!