Chinese Year of the Dragon- 2012: The Dragon and the Rooster – A Chinese Folk Tale

The Dragon is a creature of myth and legend and 2012 is the Chinese Year of the Dragon. The Chinese New Year begins on January 23rd and ends on February 9th 2013. The Dragon is the 5th sign of the Chinese Zodiac, which consists of 12 animal signs, and symbolises success and happiness. The Chinese consider that the dragon is untouchable, unpredictable and you cannot see its head and tail at the same time. Therefore, 2012 promises to be one in which we must prepare for the unexpected.

The dragon is the legendary symbol of the emperor of China, but is wasn’t always this way. There was a time when the dragon was dull and insignificant. So if you want to know how Dragon rose to be the admired and magnificent creature he is today, read on.

The Dragon and the Rooster

In the dim and distant past, at a time when roosters had tails like peacocks and antlers like stags and when dragons were in their infancy and were not yet fully formed, the celestial Emperor, ruler of the sky, sea and earth had a great celebration every New Year. The celebration took place in his palace in the sky and there were many important guests from different stars and planets. The animals of the earth were also invited.

The animals loved going to the heavenly palace for the New Year party and they spent weeks preening, pampering and preparing themselves for the great event.

Only Dragon was miserable. He thought himself the most ugly, dull and boring of creatures and the fact that he had nothing adorning the top of his head was the cause of some shame and embarrasment.

One day, as Dragon was swimming in the river, Rooster came strutting by looking magnificent. His colourful tail was fanned out and he had the most amazing red antlers on top of his head. Dragon could only look on enviously and imagined how handsome he himself would look if he also had such wonderful antlers on top of his head.

‘Rooster,’ he shouted out, ‘I’ve been invited to the palace for the New Year celebrations. Unfortunately I have nothing to wear. Could I possibly borrow your antlers?’

Rooster was astonished. ‘That would be impossible. I have also been invited to the celebrations and I plan to wear my antlers myself.’

‘But Rooster,’ replied Dragon, ‘you have the most amazingly colourful tail. What need do you have for antlers. They only serve to make you less handsome.’

At that moment a large fish who had overheard the conversation popped her head out of the water. The carp was also Dragon’s good friend and she said,

‘Dragon is absolutely right. Your tail and feathers are most impressive but the antlers only serve to make you less appealing. Lend Dragon your antlers and rest assured I will guarantee their safe return.’

Finally the vain rooster was convinced and agreed to lend the antlers to Dragon for one day and one night and Dragon, for his part, promised to return the antlers as soon as the New Year celebrations were over.

That night at the palace everyone marveled at the dragon’s magnificence. Even the celestial emperor gave him a special welcome, beckoning for him to come forward and to take his place next to the throne, a place of great honour. Dragon had never experienced such admiring glances and he enjoyed the attention very much.

However, Rooster was extremely jealous and he regretted letting Dragon borrow his antlers. The next morning he woke early and wasted no time in rushing over to where Dragon lived.

‘Dragon, return my antlers right away!’ he shouted.

Dragon appeared out of the water looking magnificent with the huge antlers on top of his head. He said, ‘Dear Rooster, you look dazzling as you are and I look so dull without the antlers, please let me keep them a little longer.’

But Dragon had no intention of returning the antlers and without waiting for an answer he dived back into the water leaving Rooster furious and screeching on the river bank.

‘Dragon, return my antlers! Dragon return my antlers!’

Carp heard the commotion and popped her head out of the river to see what all the fuss was about.
‘What’s the matter, Rooster?’ she asked, ‘You’re making such a frightful noise.
‘Dragon refuses to return my beautiful antlers and it was you who guaranteed their safe return,’ replied Rooster.
‘I’m so sorry,’ replied Carp, ‘I had no idea that Dragon would look quite so splendid and that he would treasure the antlers so. I do hope you can resolve the situation.’
And with that Carp dived back into the water, leaving Rooster hopping mad and screeching on the river bank.

‘Cockadoodledoo! Cockadoodledoo!’ she cried.

So when you next hear a rooster calling out at dawn, ‘Cockadoodledoo! Cockadoodledoo!’ you will know that he is calling out, ‘Dragon, return my antlers! Dragon, return my antlers!’

As for the dragon, he became China’s most revered creature. The celestial emperor bestowed the gift of flight on him, and made him guardian of all the waters in the sky, sea and earth. Even today, the dragon is invited to celebrate the Chinese New Year and dance the ‘Dance of the Dragon’ with the people of China.

And if you doubt the validity of this tale ask yourself this, have you every seen a rooster with antlers? Well, have you?


About The Henry Brothers

We are English teachers involved in ELT publishing in Turkey, and also touring the country giving workshops and presentations to English teachers, mainly on the use of poetry, storytelling and other lively activities in the classroom. We can be contacted by e-mail to or
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6 Responses to Chinese Year of the Dragon- 2012: The Dragon and the Rooster – A Chinese Folk Tale

  1. Mr. G. says:

    I won’t throw my slippers to a screeching rooster again, nobody ever told me before 😦

  2. Pingback: The Year of the Dragon: has nothing much to do with my post but it’s Chinese New Year and I thought I’d use it anyway :) « Theattitudequeen's Blog

  3. Pingback: Dragon Babies « From Eternity To Here

  4. Alexis says:

    Stupid folktale. The dragon and rooster zodiac are one of the most compatible in Chinese astrology. In fact, in the Chinese astrology the Rooster is represented as the Phoenix. The emperor of China has the dragon to represent itself while the empress has the Phoenix. Dragon and Rooster will never be at odds with each other. Dragon and Phoenix in China represents marital bliss. Do some research.

  5. Pingback: chinese new year jokes | Kuplux's

  6. Pingback: chinese new year dragon dance | Kuplux's

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