THE 12 YEAR CALENDAR
The Mongol 12- year calendar has been in use since ancient times. Each of the 12 years is distinguished from the others through its name all years are named and are symbolized through the following 12 animals; mouse, cow, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, cock, dog and pig.
Traditionally each year has unique characteristics that are similar to its name. For example, the year of the monkey will take on the monkey’s personality traits hyper
rambunctious. The, result a very long, difficult,harsh year.
At one point in time many Mongols wondered where and how this calendar was derived. As a result, a tale was created. The following is a short version of the tale.
Once upon time during the ancient Hunnu times good decided to create a “pattern time”. One day he made an announcement to the people I am creating a 12 – year calendar however,i need 12 different names to dis¬tinguish each year. I’ve decided that tomorrow afternoon – the first 12 things that appear before me will receive one of the names, until I have named all 12”. So, the following day animals appeared before him. The first 11 were the monkey, cow, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, cock, dog and pig. However, there were 2 animals that then appeared the camel and the mouse.God did not know which to choose. Both would be good representatives because he created both. The camel is proud big and self-confident and the mouse is the opposite quiet, shy and modest. God decided to have a contest for the twelfth year because both were equal to him.The following day the mouse and camel were to watch for the sun to rise. The first to see it rise would go back’ immediately to God and tell him. The camel, being proud, propped himself on a hill facing the east where the sun always rises. He was confident that he would see the sun rise first because he thought of himself as very intelligent. The little mouse, sitting on the camel’s humpfaced the west, the opposite direction. Finally when the sun began to rise the mouse first saw its reflection on the mountains it was starting at. Thus, the mouse won the contest.
Although the camel is not one of the 12 years of the call its undeed still a part of its on many written callendars, endars the camel is often shown. The camel is considered a very important part of Mongolian society and its reliationship with the calendar is that the camel represents all 12 years, or 12 animals.