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You’d think I’d be excited that this coming year in the Chinese zodiac, the year of the rooster, is my year.
After all, I lived for three years in China, watching patiently as the calendar cycled through the years of the rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, and goat, buying stuffed baby animals in which it was almost impossible to tell a cute little horse from an adorable little snake.
Now, starting January 28, it’s my turn. In the lunar calendar, I am a rooster. In fact, I am a FIRE rooster, since the zodiac signs are also divided up into elements, including wood, metal, water, and earth. 2017 is the year of the fire rooster. It sounds hot.
In fact, it sounds almost as awesome as being Aquarius (“This is the dawning of the…”). I’ll admit I’m one of those people who read horoscopes, although often I read mine at the end of the day, and then I say, yeah, that did happen.
Also, embracing my rooster-ness is a great way for me to put 2016’s annus horribilis behind me.
I begin with a little research. A rooster is “active, amusing, and popular within a crowd,” says the travel website China Highlights. Hey, that’s pretty accurate, I think.
“Roosters are talkative, outspoken, frank, open, honest, and loyal individuals. They like to be the center of attention,” the site continues. Okay, so the story of me dancing on the coffee table got out.
Roosters are healthy. “They are active and enjoy sports, such as hiking and swimming.” Bingo. “Roosters don’t get sick very often because they tend to fight illness well.” Yup. “Roosters are a little sensitive, and they feel stressed and moody at times.” And here I was blaming menopause.
You know who else are roosters? Ben Franklin and Beyonce. We slay.
I continue my investigation. “2017 – an Unlucky Year for Roosters,” the site proclaims. “Therefore, Roosters should be more careful in 2017.” Wait, what?
I am careful. Telling me to “be more careful” is like telling someone to “calm down” when you’re in the middle of an argument.
There must be a way around this. “The best way to avoid bad luck during this year is by wearing something red given by an elder (relative), such as socks, a neck cord, underwear, a waistband, a bracelet or anklet.” I remember that in January, the Wu Mart near our home in Beijing would lay out mountains of bright red granny panties for women and tighty-reddies for men.
I can get my mother to buy me some red undergarments. Or maybe I’ll go all Victoria’s Secret and load up on a year’s supply of fetching red lacy bras and those panties that only show up at bridal showers.
But hold up. In a section called “Things That Roosters Should Avoid,” I read, “unlucky color: red.” A rooster’s lucky colors are gold, brown, and yellow. Buh bye, Victoria’s Secret.
My lucky flowers are gladioli and cockscomb.
My unlucky direction is east.
What does that even mean? What do I do now? Wear brown and just…be…careful? Can I set my Google maps so that I never need to drive east? Queen Bey, help me.
I was always so jealous of those little string bracelets I’d see people wearing in China because it was their zodiac year. Now I see they were whistling in the dark. Your Chinese zodiac year is one fraught with peril.
I look into feng shui, the ancient Chinese practice of arranging your home in a way that promotes good fortune. A store in England (www.fengshuiweb.co.uk) offers a number of 2017 annual cures and “enhancers” kits that apparently are “not gimmicky” but contain “tightly held secrets” that are so much better than the other cures which can actually “cause more harm than good.” I investigate a package of talismans and buddhas to be placed in different corners in the home, extra if you want the wind chime, from $183.46 up to $370.77, plus shipping.
I think of the markets in Beijing jammed full of all these red tchotchkes, selling for a few RMB each. Pass.
What about being a fire rooster? Does that help or hurt my rooster status this year? The Freeman newspaper out of the Philippines has some unsettling advice for 2017 roosters: “Shun rabbit signs and images as well as persons.” It adds: “Rabbits and roosters must avoid going to funerals, the sick and also avoid doing any career move or repairs and renovations at home and work. Best for them to travel to shrug off bad vibes. And travel with their most compatible signs, avoid like sign and contrary signs, for example: rabbit versus rabbit and rooster!”
Uh oh. I’m married to a zodiac rabbit, and have been since 1982. While we may not be able to avoid going to funerals (who even does that?), or avoid each other (I’m sorry, honey, your rabbit vibes are bad for me), we’ll be happy to skip the home renovations this year and “travel to shrug off bad vibes.” Looking at you, France.
For the record, that giant rooster statue of Donald Trump in China’s city of Taiyuan is misleading. Trump is a dog. I mean that in the zodiacal sense, of course. But 2017 is not an especially good year for dogs, either, according to my research.
It’s a good year for dragons, ancient symbol of China.