Year of the Rooster

January 27, 2017

Three Belt stars of Orion in spring festival of China (4)

Orion-belt-3-gods-China-e1455060687521 (4)

Images: Great Wall and Orion - Jeff Dai; Painting - Zhang Jingyi
Summary Authors: Jeff Dai, Zhang Jingyi

As shown above Orion the Hunter shines brightly above the Great Wall of China, not far from Beijing. The ancient Chinese focused on the three lined-up stars, in Orion's Belt, which are regarded as the three gods of fortune, prosperity and longevity (bottom photo). When these gods shine high in the southern sky after sunset, it’s time for the spring festival -- the traditional Chinese New Year.

Over a billion people in China and millions around the world will celebrate the Chinese New Year -- the most important of all the Chinese holidays. It's a time to honor both deities and ancestors. This year it's celebrated on January 28, which is the date of the new moon and the first day of the Chinese lunar calendar. Festivities continue for 15 days and culminate with the Lantern Festival. Each year is associated with one of 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac. For 2017, it’s the Year of the Rooster. Photo taken on January 3, 2017.