The Chinese phoenix is regarded as the epitome of all birds, or simply as the king of birds because it embodies the characteristics of many other feathered species. For generations, the Chinese have named food, girls, and musical instruments with the Chinese character for the phoenix, with the expectation that they will be as splendid as the phoenix.
The Chinese phoenix is one of four Chinese mythical animals, the other three being the unicorn, dragon, and tortoise. The phoenix is also known as the “August Rooster” since the bird sometimes takes the place of the Rooster in the Chinese zodiac. The figure of the phoenix appears in objects dating from thousands of years ago at the very, very beginning of Chinese culture. Some sources claimed that this mythic bird has its roots in a prehistoric, possibly ostrich-like huge bird that lived a long time ago in China.
The Chinese phoenix did not always look like the colorful firebird that we all recognize. In fact, it started out as an unremarkable bird with very ordinary plumage. It is either described as being white, black, green, yellow, or red. But it had one advantage – it worked very hard.
Unlike other birds that loved to eat and play all day, the phoenix was very busy from dawn till dusk. It would pick up the fruits and seeds discarded by other birds and store them in a cave.
When the forest encountered a severe drought, the birds could not find any food and were starving to death. The phoenix hurriedly opened its cave and shared the stored fruits and seeds with all the other birds.
After the drought, every bird picked out the most beautiful feather from their body and made a brilliant coat for the phoenix, and unanimously elected the phoenix as the king of birds.
From then on, birds from all corners of the Earth would gather every year to celebrate the phoenix’s birthday. This day became known as “When the Birds Worship the Phoenix.”