What does it mean when you hear the neighborhood rooster crowing all night long? Are those Cock-A-Doodle-Dos signs of good luck, or of bad. Well, like so many things about life in Mexico…it depends.
I’m now in my ninth year of answering Mexico Insights readers’ questions about moving to, visiting and living at Lake Chapala. Most of those questions are pretty straightforward and are about the nuts and bolts of the transition to life here.
We also receive some fun questions about Mexican customs, legends and culture. Take at look at the email we received today:
“I see lots of ceramic & metal roosters in all of the shops here. I've been told that they are a "good luck" symbol. Is this correct? There must be more to the story....
I did a site search, but only found one reference to a "Mass of the Rooster", which really makes me think that there is more to it. Thanks in advance.”
Here’s some of the superstitions, legends and folklore I unearthed when I checked some of my favorite resources:
The Misa del Gallo (Mass of the Rooster)
You’re right, there is a Misa del Gallo (Mass of the Rooster ) in Mexico – it’s the Christmas Eve Midnight Mass (now held at 8 p.m. or 9 p.m. in Lakeside villages). There are two old legends linking the rooster to Christmas Eve.
- The first says that when the Christ Child was born, the rooster on the roof of the stable crowed to announce the birth to the other animals.
- The other, which was an old tale when Shakespeare recorded it in Hamlet, says that the rooster crows all through the the night on Christmas Eve and well into Christmas morning to keep the evil spirits from spoiling the holy time.
- Another possibility is that associating the rooster with Christmas (most Mexican nativity scenes include a rooster figure on the roof of the stable) is a symbolic foretelling of denial of Peter – who claimed no association with Christ three times before the cock crowed.
Roosters are Good Luck – Roosters are Bad Luck
In Mexican (and Spanish) culture, there are a number of superstitions regarding the rooster – and there’s good news and bad about the type of luck the rooster brings.
- When you hear the rooster crowing in the middle of the night, it’s an indication that the angel of death is over the house. It can be the foretelling of a death in the family.
- The crowing of a cock indicates that there are brujas (witches) in the area.
- When the rooster crows at night there’ll be bad luck the next day.
- A black rooster is an omen of death, associated with pagan sacrifice.
- A rooster crowing at sunset foretells bad weather.
- If the cock crows inside the house he foretells a victory.
- When a rooster crowing at the front door, there’ll be a stranger at the door before nightfall.
- Never kill a white rooster, they’ll bring you good luck.
- Roosters are associated with the sun and protectors of humankind.
- When you walk under roosting chickens, if the hen lets loose and soils you, it’s very back luck; if it was the rooster that got you, it’s an indication that great luck is coming your way.
Remember, Roosters also are the ‘Cock of the Walk’
With their slow arrogant saunter around the barnyard, roosters have yet another association in Mexico’s macho culture. Pedro Infante, Jorge Negrete, and Javier Solis, the crooning heart-throb leading men in Mexico’s Golden Age of the Cine (movies), were known as Tres Gallos Mexicanos (Mexico’s Three Roosters).
I’m guessing that this image of the strutting rooster would also explain why the image of this barnyard bird is often portrayed on the silvered or golden botonadura (the sets of buttons and chains that shimmer down the trousers of the dress suit worn by charros (horsemen) and mariachis (traditional groups of 10 musicians). I wondered how the lowly rooster had made the cut to be featured among buttons shaped like the Aztec calendar, horses, eagles, horseshoes.
If roosters crowing at twilight are a harbinger of good luck on the following day, think of how much good luck could come from the jingle of all those rooster-shaped buttons.
We’d like to answer questions for more of our readers. Just email Judy King: firstname.lastname@example.org . Our hat is off to Tlaquepaque sculptor and artist Sergio Bustamonte. That’s his warm and wonderful sculpture of the dancing rooster shown above.