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Traditions - General Info

Coq Gaulois, a French symbol

This page was updated on: Tuesday, August 21, 2018 at: 11:00 am

Why do we talk about Coq Gaulois?

Everybody knows that the rooster sings at the crack of dawn, but the Celts believed that the sun rose at his call!

They thus believed that the rooster announced the resurrection of the sun and the defeat of darkness.

They named the bird kog (coq) that meant red, a colour that symbolized the passage from the darkness of the night to the light of the sun.

They also associated it with their god Lug the Bright, the Father of Creation and considered the solar bird as a sacred bird.

For the Romans, the day began officially ad gallicinium, when the rooster called at the first light of day.

However, what made the rooster associated with the Gaulish nation is that in Latin Gallus designed the inhabitants of Gaul, but also the rooster.

The Romans also associated the rooster with victory, eloquence, vigilance, fertility and lubricity!

That said, the Gauls never used this animal as emblem!

Coq Gaulois and imperial eagle

The use of the rooster as emblem goes back only to the French Renaissance.

The kings added it occasionally to their coats of arms for its qualities of courage, ardor and combativity.

The rooster became the emblem of the French nation during the Revolution.

It indeed appeared on newly minted coins, wearing the revolutionary Phrygian cap, while the allegorical Fraternity often carries a staff surmounted by a rooster.

That said, once emperor, Napoleon Bonaparte quickly replaced the rooster by the imperial eagle; a poor farm animal couldn't obviously be worthy of symbolising his power...

The rooster re-appeared during the Revolution of 1830 on the National Guards’ uniform buttons.

Under the Second Republic, the allegorical Liberty holds a tiller decorated with a rooster, but Louis Napoleon, once crowned Napoleon III, added the imperial eagle.

One of the most beautiful representations of the Coq Gaulois is on the Grille du Coq.

Adrien Chancel created this gate, which links the gardens of the Elysée Palace to the Avenue Gabriel, during the Third Republic.

The rooster appeared also at the same epoch on a 20 francs gold coin.

Coq Gaulois, symbol of France

The symbolism of the Coq Gaulois was reinforced during WWI when it incarnated patriotism and Gaulish courage against the Prussian troops.

The rooster is indeed a farm animal, rustic, obstinate, courageous and prolific, an image the French soldiers proudly endorsed, at a time when France was mainly rural.

That said, if the rooster is not the symbol of the French Republic, Le Coq Gaulois is nevertheless the image of France throughout the world!

Who hasn’t seen it as a logo on the French sportmen’s jerseys!?

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