Year of the Rooster and the Lunar New Year


As Australians prepare to usher in the Lunar New Year, the Australia China Institute at Western Sydney University has urged people to reconnect with the traditional environmental aspects of the festival.

The Year of the Rooster officially begins on January 28, with festivals planned across Australia to usher in the Lunar New Year.

The Director of the Australia China Institute for Arts and Culture, Professor Jocelyn Chey, says the New Year festival in China traditionally marked the beginning of the farming year. 

"The Emperor symbolically ploughed a furrow and offered sacrifices to Heaven to bring blessings and good weather for the whole country," she says.

"In this industrial age, most people have forgotten the environmental connections of the festival."

"However, in 2017, with growing concern about pollution and climate change, it may be time to make these connections again."

2017 is the Year of the Rooster, and Professor Chey says this is often regarded as a specially lucky year because the Chinese word for rooster (or hen) ji sounds like the word for good fortune ji.  

"There is an ancient saying: that the rooster has five virtues: its cockscomb, which looks like an official hat, shows that it is civilized; its sharp claws show that it is valiant in battle; when faced with an enemy it attacks with vigour; when it calls the chickens to share scattered grain this shows that it has a generous spirit; when it gets up early to announce the dawn this shows it is hardworking," she says.

"When Chinese people look at the animal kingdom and at nature they find moral lessons for themselves.  There are certainly lessons to be learned from the many virtues of the rooster!"

Professor Chey comments further that in China, three million people crowd public transport to travel home for the New Year in what has been described as the largest human migration event in the world. 

"The New Year is the most important cultural festival for Chinese people everywhere, and city workers are laden with gifts for their extended families in provincial towns and villages," she says.

"Increasingly, however, people choose to go away for a holiday during the New Year break, as they feel that they will benefit more from "down time" and relaxation than from the social obligations of visiting and receiving visits."

"Many tourists come to Australia at this time from China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and other parts of East and South East Asia."


27 January 2017

Mark Smith, Senior Media Officer