2017 - The Year of the Fire Rooster

This year, the Chinese New Year falls today and it is the Year of the Fire Rooster according to the Chinese zodiac. The festival lasts for 15 days. Most employees will have seven days off work, while students take one month absence from school. Being one of the traditional festivals, it is the time for whole families to reunite together, which is similar with Christmas Day to the westerners.

Rooster is tenth in the 12-year cycle of Chinese zodiac sign. The Years of the Rooster include 1921, 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017 and 2029. The Chinese zodiac signs are determined by the lunar year in which you were born. The Chinese believe the animal ruling one's birth year has a profound influence on personality and destiny. The saying is: "This animal hides in your heart." Unlike Western astrology, it does not look the heavenly constellations or planets to predict one's destiny. Rather, Chinese astrology deals with divining sciences of the five elements (earth, fire, water, metal and wood), Yin and Yang, Chi, and the cycles of time.

Legend has it that inception of the Chinese zodiac signs began when the Buddha beckoned all the animals to bid him farewell before his departure from the Earth. Only twelve arrived at his summoning and so those were given a place of honor in a year being named after each.

Rooster is almost the epitome of fidelity and punctuality. For ancestors who had no alarm clocks, the crowing was significant as it awakened people to get up and start the day. In Chinese culture, another symbolic meaning of chicken carries is exorcising evil spirits. People, for whom the Rooster sign and Fire element overlap, value personal loyalty very much, always keep their word and have a strong sense of responsibility. Fire Roosters can be impatient in life, always feeling that there is something missing if they don't get things done.

These are some traditional ways in which people celebrate the holiday:

  • Families gather together and spend the evening preparing Chinese dumplings. It is common to hide a coin in one of the dumplings. Whoever gets the dumpling with the coin will supposedly have good luck in the coming year.
  • On New Year’s Day, children receive leisee, red packets decorated with gold symbols and filled with "lucky money".
  • Throughout the season, certain foods are served because they symbolize abundance and good fortune. Besides preparing special dishes, tangerines and oranges are often passed out to children and guests, as they symbolize wealth and good luck.
  • Prepare a Tray of Togetherness, a circular or octagon-shaped tray with eight compartments, each containing symbolic foods such as lotus seeds and lychee nuts that provides a sweet beginning to the New Year.

Here are some famous people who are Fire Roosters:  Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, Elton John, Jennifer Aniston, Anna Kournikova, Bette Midler, Cate Blanchett, Diane Sawyer, Jessica Alba, Matthew McConaughey, Matt Damon, Natalie Portman, Catherine the Great, Amelia Earhart, Rudyard Kipling, Groucho Marx, Peter Ustinov, Serena Williams, to name a few.