«Cocorico», the French onomatopoeia for the rooster crowing sound (cock-a-doodle-doo), is also used to express national pride but often with a touch of irony. Why?
The cock or rooster has played a role in the symbolism and folklore of many nations for thousands of years. For many people, the rooster symbolizes bravery, boldness and virility as he defends the flock.
The connection with the rooster as symbol of France in particular may quite simply stem from the similarity of the Latin words for cock (gallus) and inhabitant of Gaul (gallicus), now known as France. This play on words was known in Roman times, when many Gauls used roosters to symbolize their loyalty to Gaul.
In the Middle Ages the cock was widely depicted in French churches and is recorded in 14th century German references to France. Chaucer’s foolish and boastful Chantecleer in the Canterbury Tales may have refered to the French national character.
During the Rennaissance the association between the rooster as symbol of France and the French was solidified by the kings of France as they appreciated the strong Christian symbol that the rooster represents: prior to being arrested, Jesus predicted that Peter would deny him three times before the rooster crowed on the following morning. At the rooster’s crowing, Peter remembered Jesus’s words. Its crowing at the dawning of each new morning made it a symbol of the daily victory of light over darkness and the triumph of good over evil. It is also an emblem of the Christian’s attitude of watchfulness and readiness for the return of Christ. Thus, during the Renaissance, the rooster became a symbol of France as a Catholic state and became a popular image on weathervanes, also known as weathercocks. From the 16th century onwards under both the Valois and Bourbon kings representations of a cockerel often accompanied the King of France on coins as a symbol of the king’s piety.
During the French Revolution, the rooster often appeared in art, symbolizing hope and faith, and well through the 1800s, the Gallic Rooster continued to appear on French coins.
The French resistance also used this symbol during the Second World War, to remind themselves of the resilience and bravery of the French people, urging the French to resist occupation.
Today the Gallic Rooster symbolizes (unofficially) France and the French people, and he often appears in international sporting events, acting as the mascot for French teams and has even marched in the opening ceremonies of the Olympics.
Vivre comme un coq en pâte = To be in clover
Le coq du village = The cock of the walk
Passer du coq-à-l’âne = To skip from one subject to another
Les bémols d’un cocorico = Don’t celebrate too soon, don’t be too optimistic!
Sans crier cocorico = Without being too chauvinistic
Un maître queux / un coq = A chef
Read about other symbols and emblems of France.