The year of your birth does not just indicate your age! According to the Chinese system of Astrology, the year of birth indicates a certain phase or aspect of a sixty-year cycle of time. Three systems are used for counting and classifying the years: The ten Heavenly Stems, the twelve Earthly Branches and the twelve Animals. The exact origins of the twelve animal system remain unknown. However, legend has it that, once upon a time, the Jade King was bored, having nothing to do in Heaven. He did not see what was happening on Earth, as he had servants satiating his every wish and desire. He decided that he wanted to see the animals that inhabited the earth so he sent word to his advisors to bring him twelve animals (which he considered to be a good sampling.) The advisor first sent an invitation to the Rat, telling him to also bring the cat. The Rat's jealousy prevented the cat from actually receiving the invitation. Further invitations were sent on to the Ox, the Tiger, the Rabbit, the Dragon, the Snake, the Horse, the Ram, the Monkey, the Rooster and the Dog, asking for their presence at the palace the following day. When they lined up in front of the king, he found that they numbered only eleven, instead of twelve as he had requested. The king sent his servant down to Earth to retrieve a twelfth animal. The servant ran into a man carrying a Pig, and he hastily grabbed it and delivered it to the king. The animals stood in front of the king in no particular order. The Rat, being smaller than the rest, hopped on the Ox's back and proceeded to play the flute. The king was very impressed by this display. He gave the Rat first place. Second place was given to the Ox for its good sportsmanship, and third was given to the Tiger, who appeared so courageous. The Rabbit was given fourth place, the Dragon fifth, the Snake sixth, the Horse seventh, the Ram eighth, the Monkey ninth, the Rooster tenth and the Dog eleventh. By def
英语中用以比喻讨厌鬼，可耻的人，告密者，密探，破坏罢工的人；美国俚语指新学生、下流女人。当看到smell a rat这一词组时，是指人们怀疑在做错某事。a rat race则表示激烈的竞争 。rats desert a sinking ship（船沉鼠先逃，这一谚语意指那些一遇到危险就争先寻求 安全或一看见困难便躲得老远的人。）
涉及“牛”的汉语成语很多，如“对牛弹琴”、“牛蹄之涔”等。英语中涉及“Ox”的表 达方式则不多。用Ox － eyed形容眼睛大的人；用短语The black Ox has trod on sb’s foot表示灾祸已降临到某人头上。
指凶恶的人，虎狼之徒；英国人指穿制服的马夫；口语中常指比赛的劲敌。中国和东南亚国家常以Paper tiger比喻貌似强大而实质虚弱的敌人。词组ride the tiger表示以非常不 确定或危险的方式生活。
在英国俚语中，hare指坐车不买票的人。与hare组成的词组有：make a hare of sb.愚弄某人。start a hare。在讨论中提出枝节问题。例如：You start a hare ever time at the meeting.每次讨论你都提出与题无关的问题。英语中有许多关于兔的谚语，如：
1. First catch your hare.勿谋之过早（意指：不要过于乐观）。
2. You cannot run with the hare and hunt with hounde.不能两面讨好（意指：不要耍两面派）。
龙在中国人民的心目中占有崇高的位置，有关龙的成语非常多，且含有褒义。如“龙跃凤鸣”、“龙骧虎步”等。在外国语言中，赞扬龙的词语非常之少，且含有贬义。如“dragon”指凶暴的人，严厉的人，凶恶严格的监护人，凶恶的老妇人等。以dragon组成的词组也多含贬义。如dragon’s teeth ：相互争斗的根源；排列或多层的楔形反坦克混克混凝土障碍物。the old Dragon：魔鬼。
John’s behavior should him to be a snake.
a snake in the grass.潜伏的敌人或危险。
to warm a snake in one’s bosom.养虎贻患，姑息坏人。Takd heed of the snake in the grass.草里防蛇。
1. get on the high horse.摆架子，目空一切。
2. work like a horse.辛苦的干活。
3. horse doctor.兽医、庸医。
4. dark horse.竞争中出人意料的获胜者。
如：The voters were surprised when the dark horse won the nomination.那个无名小卒在竞争中获胜时，投票者无不大吃一惊。
1. As well be hanged for a sheep as a lamb.
2. There’s a black sheep in every flock.
3. He that makes himself a sheep shall be eaten by the wolf.
4. The sheep who tallks peace with a wolf will soon be mutton.