Happy New Year!

Chinese New Year, that is. This is Year of the Rooster. You’re probably familiar with the paper placemats in Chinese restaurants that detail the signs of the Chinese zodiac (Tiger, Rat, Boar, Horse, etc.), and the characteristics of people born under each one. I always wondered whether actual Chinese people paid attention to this, but I was pleased to discover, when I visited that vast and fascinating country, that yes, they do. As it happens 2005* was also year of the rooster, and in June of that year I was fortunate to participate in a Fulbright-Hays Faculty Development Seminar in China, which explored the impact of the Great Western Development Program on China’s ethnic minorities. I remember seeing roosters everywhere, and I managed to acquire a set of paper cut-out roosters as a souvenir. Here are some of them:

rooster1 rooster2 rooster3 rooster4

According to Wikipedia, there is a further cycle of the five elements (water, wood, fire, earth, and metal), so the whole zodiac takes sixty years to complete. The year 2017 is Fire Rooster, and people born this year are “trustworthy, with a strong sense of timekeeping and responsibility at work.” Apparently a rooster’s lucky numbers are 5, 7, and 8, lucky colors are gold, brown and yellow, and lucky flowers are gladiola and (appropriately enough) cockscomb.

By the way, if you are interested, I have added an essay about my time in China to a tab above.

* Or, technically, February 9, 2005 to January 28, 2006. If your birthday is in January or early February, you have to make sure that you were actually born in your putative year. Certain websites can help you out.