Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Rats Tale for Chinese New Year

Tomorrow, February 7th, begins the new Year of the Rat. There are many rat stories in China, and the "rats marrying off daughter" is one of the most popular.

Rats Marrying off Daughter

When the rats' daughter reaches the age of marriage, they tell her to select the most powerful to be her husband.

After careful consideration, the rat daughter decides that the sun is most powerful. She asks the sun to marry her. The sun says, "Dark Cloud can block sunrays. He is more powerful. You'll be better off marring Dark Cloud."

The rat daughter proposes to Dark Cloud. Dark Cloud says, "Wind can blow me away. He is more powerful. You'll be better off marring Wind."

The rat daughter proposes to Wind. Wind says, "Wall can stop me. He is more powerful. You'll be better off marring Wall."

The rat daughter proposes to Wall. But Wall says, "If rats dig holes in me, I collapse. I'm afraid of rats."

Wall's words remind the rat daughter of Cat, rats' natural enemy. It appears to her now Cat must be the most powerful. She decides to marry Cat.

Cat agrees right away. They choose a lucky date, the 7th night of the New Year, as their wedding day. The rats carry the bride in a bright red sedan chair, all the way beating gongs and drums.

As soon as the bride goes into the bridal chamber, Cat eats her. "Hiding my bride in my stomach is the best way to protect her from other bullies," Cat says.


Despite the ending, the traditional Chinese New Year posters of the tale display only the exhilarating scene: the rat family's wedding parade. It seems that the Chinese view the whole thing more as a natural cycle, and find humor in it. Here is another one of the posters:


Avital said...

Funny story... And I share this shameful sign.

Kathy Fish said...

Ha! Good story, Xujun. Like Avital, I was born in the Year of the Rat...Happy New Year!

Anonymous said...

Aw, poor Vermin...

Xujun Eberlein said...

Hey, Happy birth year, Avital and Kathy!

bevjackson said...

Certainly the courteous cat thing to do. ha.

Maryanne Stahl said...

and I am the snake. watch out! :-)

Xujun Eberlein said...


Lesley - NFRS and MRC said...

An interesting story!
The telling of it seems to symbolise the love-hate relationship between the Chinese and rats.
On the one hand the Chinese are supposed to regard the rat as something worthy of a place in their Zodiacal calendar , yet they are prepared to eat these intelligent rodents!