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25 January 2017

It's The Year Of The Rooster

Chinese New Year 2017

This weekend will see the beginning of the Chinese New Year. 2017 will be the Year of the Rooster – but what is the meaning behind this astrological symbol? Will this be another year of tragedy, like 2016? Or will this be a lucky year, a year when the darkness fades and the sun rises once more? Perhaps the ancient wisdom of the Orient can point the way. 

Chinese New Year 2017

It's a new year and a chance for a clean sweep. Certainly in China, and throughout the Chinese diaspora, cleaning and sweeping is high on the agenda. It's a time of renewal, the time to scrub the place from top to bottom, spruce it up a bit, lick of paint here – getting your house in order. This also means getting rid of those worn-out clothes and replacing them, clearing those pesky outstanding debts, getting the car fixed up…

You get the idea. 

Much like our western tradition of new years' resolutions, in China it's believed that one must take steps to ensure fresh success in the new year. Then it's time to hang decorations, exchange gifts and enjoy a fun feast with family and friends.

2017 – The Year of the Rooster

The exact date of the Chinese New Year changes since it is based on a lunar calendar, rather our solar-based Gregorian calendar. Each new year also corresponds to a different sign. 

There are twelve different signs in the Chinese zodiac; the Rat, the Ox, the Tiger, the Rabbit, the Dragon, the Snake, the Horse, the Goat, the Monkey, the Rooster, the Dog and the Pig.

This means any given sign only comes around every twelve years.

At the time of writing (January 25th) we are still in the Year of the Monkey, however come January 28th we will be entering the Year of the Rooster.

The Rooster is the tenth sign in the Chinese zodiac and the last such year was in 2005. Previous Rooster years also include 1921, 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981 and 1993..

So if you were born in one of those years congratulations are in order, this is your year! 

Though if you want to ensure that 2017 is your lucky year Chinese lore requires you to take certain precautions…

Rooster Traits

Punctuality is one of the Rooster's best traits, waking up before the dawn to usher in the new day. Bravery, too, since he never backs down from a fight.

Roosters are therefore an industrious and confident bunch, though at times they can come across as cocky, no pun intended. So, your first tip to ensure good luck for the year, measure your confidence with humility!

The Rooster is also associated with banishing evil – night is the time of spirits, after all, but the crowing scares them away.

The Rooster is the herald of the dawn, so, of course, he is also tied closely with the sun – something which we, in Ireland, are always looking for more of!

Last, but hardly least, the Rooster is also associated with good luck and prosperity – virile and fruitful as he is.

In other words, despite occasionally ruffling some feathers with his bravado, overall the Rooster is a well-grounded creature. But when he does take flight it's hard not to notice; two of our greatest scientific milestones occurred during Rooster years, both occurring far beyond our terrestrial confines.

First, in 1957, when the Soviet Union launched Sputnik, the first ever artificial satellite. Then, eager to show its might, it was America's time to feel like the cock of the walk when, in 1969, it landed Neil Armstrong on the moon. 

In other words, this is the year for you to stay grounded, but at the same time try to expand your horizons and extend your grasp Embrace change, try getting out of your comfort zone and when you see a new opportunity, go for it! 

Dawn Chorus

Roosters are the first to sing each morning, just before the rising of the sun. So it's hardly surprising to learn that so many born under its sign are musically inclined.

So if you love music and you're born in a Rooster year you're in good company!

Famous roosters include American soul legends Nina Simone, Quincy Jones and the godfather himself, James Brown – all born in1933.

Van Morrison, Eric Clapton, Neil Young and reggae legend Bob Marley – all born in 1945. (Woke up this morning, smile with the rising sun…" – obvious rooster lyrics right there.)

Closer to home, perhaps not so much of the soul but certainly not short on blood, sweat and tears (and Martini), we have Shame McGowan (born 1957).

And it's not just singers, either, as our list of famous musical roosters also includes two of the greatest film composers of all time, Bond composer John Barry (1933) and Oscar-winning maestro Hans Zimmer (1957).

Celebrity Roosters

Still want more? Ok, well, we've got plenty more famous people, plus a couple of infamous ones, Ronnie and Reggie Kray (born 1933) and, more known for sharp questions and not-so-sharp shirt and suspenders combos, it's American talk show icon Larry King (1933),

Actors love nothing more than to puff out their chests and walk tall, so it's hardly surprising that we've got plenty of Rooster actors either. Famous Rooster thespians include Daniel Day Lewis, Richard E Grant and Stephen Fry. Plus, to balance out the posh, there's Dan Castellaneta, the voice of Homer Simpson and Swedish action star Dolph Lundgren – all born in 1957.

Other famous actors include Edward Norton and Christian Slater (1969), and Natalie Portman (1981).

Next, from the world of sport, we have snooker champion turned techno DJ (No seriously, Google it!) Steve Davis (1957), F1 world champion record holder Michael Schumacher (1969) and, our second supersized Swede on the list, stilt-legged striker Zlatan Ibrahimović (1981).

Fortune Favours The Brave

The Rooster does not wait for good fortune to come, he's up early before everyone else scratching and pecking his way to prosperity.

The Rooster crows as the sun rises, in the east – and with a £2 million jackpot we have Mark 6, a.k.a. the Hong Kong lottery, ideal for those looking for a little eastern flavour!