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The Chinese zodiac affects Chinese culture a lot in poems, paintings, art, and architecture. As well as China, many other countries pay attention to Chinese New Year by producing zodiac products and issuing zodiac money.
You must have heard about the zodiac Rooster, but you may not know the following 6 facts about year of the Rooster 2017/2029.
A zodiac year starts from 'Start of Spring' according to the traditional Chinese solar calendar, and 'Start of Spring' is on February 3rd in 2017. However, most Chinese tend to name a zodiac year from Chinese New Year according to the traditional Chinese lunar calendar, thus the 2017 lunar year of the Rooster starts on January 28th.
According to Chinese astrology, people in their zodiac year are believed to offend the God of Age, and incur his curse. It is believed that Roosters (people who were born in 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, etc.) will be unlucky in 2017.
Actually "spring starts" twice in lunar year 2017, according to the traditional Chinese solar calendar, which starts with a period called 'Start of Spring', which always begins within two days of February 4.
As lunar year 2017, starts on January 28th 2017, and finishes on February 15th 2018, there will be two 'Start of Spring's, one on February 3th 2017, and another on February 4th 2018.
Not all lunar years have two 'Spring Starts'. Lunar years can have one start of 'Start of Spring', but sometimes none! This is because a Chinese lunar year can start any day from January 21st to February 20th, and is either about 354 or about 384 days long.
To keep the Chinese lunar calendar within half a month of the traditional solar calendar, there will be a leap month in 2017 (a second lunar month 6 starting July 23rd). So there are 13 lunar months instead of 12, which means there are 384 days in Rooster year 2017.
Roosters were very important in people's daily lives in ancient times. They were not only treated as food, like today, but in ancient times people regarded them as a mascot since they ate harmful insects.
(The shape of China on a map is often likened to a rooster by Chinese — with its beak above Japan (the worm), and Korea as its wattle, etc.)
As recorded in Hanshiwaizhuan ('韩诗外传', the External Commentary of Han Odes), Roosters have five virtues: literary, military prowess, courageous, benevolent, and trustworthy.
In ancient times, people didn't have watches or clocks; they used the 12 Earthly Branches to divide a day into 12 two-hour periods. Every period was named after a different Earthly Branch.
For the sake of entertainment and convenience, people replaced them with the 12 zodiac signs, according to their sequence, inventing sayings to relate each period to each animal's behavior. Rooster hours are from 5pm to 7pm, when roosters go back to their coops.