2017 is the year of the rooster! The Japanese are bidding farewell to the year of the monkey and are getting ready for all things rooster-related in celebration of the Chinese Zodiac!
The Chinese Zodiac
While the West has horoscopes, Asia has the Chinese zodiac, which is a 12 year cycle with 12 different animals. According to the legend, the zodiac animals were in a race to determine which animal would be designated for each month of the year. Unfortunately on the day of the race, Rat forgot to awaken Cat and went on ahead in his excitement, letting Cat oversleep. Thinking he is too small to keep up with the rest of the animals, Rat hopped on to Ox for a ride, and jumped off to arrive first. Ox came in second, followed by Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Ram, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig - leaving Cat out of the race. This is supposedly why cats and mice are always fighting. Even though it is originally a Chinese system, the zodiac is very much a part of Japanese culture since Japan followed the Chinese lunar calendar up until the end of the 19th century.
According to the zodiac, 2017 is the year of the rooster (number ten in the twelve year cycle). If you were born in 1921, 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, or 2005, congratulations - you’re a rooster!
Each zodiac animal is said to reflect a person’s character – similar to Western horoscopes. The rooster is known for its fidelity and punctuality. Way before the invention of alarm clocks, people relied on the rooster for their wake up calls. In Chinese culture, chickens are also a symbol of exorcising evil spirits. People born in the year of the rooster are said to be honest, bright, communicative, and ambitious. Many are good looking and enjoy dressing up. They seldom rely on others, and while they might become enthusiastic about something fast, they are quick to lose interest. Their strengths include their independence, quick thinking, and generosity; their weaknesses are their impatience, narrow-mindedness, and selfishness. Roosters have great compatibility with oxen and snakes, but should avoid rats, rabbits, horses, dogs, and other roosters.
Many businesses are capitalizing on the year of the Rooster with their own special goods! You can also find them on nengajō (年賀状) which are New Year’s greeting cards. During the new year you can visit a shrine and purchase an ema (絵馬; prayer board) with the picture of the upcoming zodiac animal painted on it. It is customary to write the wishes for the year on the back and hang it up in the shrine.
You can also get your favorite characters with a rooster-themed twist:
Winnie the Pooh, available at the Disney store
You’ll also find other rooster products at Daiso, shopping malls, and souvenir shops.
Contact our Concierge to have these rooster-themed items delivered to your doorstep!
With the year of the rooster upon us, 2017 is sure to be an auspicious year! If you’re not a rooster, don’t despair: next year will be the year of the dog!
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