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Weathervanes have long-adorned barns and rooftops all around the world and they are a common sight regardless of where you go. Often atop a weathervane you will find a rooster, but why do weathervanes have roosters on them?
Weathervanes were used to determine which way the wind was blowing. They are made up of a tail and an arrow which points in the direction of the wind. The tail catches the wind, spinning and pointing the arrow in the direction it is blowing from.
This arrow would point to either north, south, east or west. If the arrow spins and points to the N, it means the wind is blowing from the north to the south. This aided in predicting weather patterns and could help to warn people of incoming storms, rain and floods.
But this still doesn’t tell us why there is a rooster placed atop the weathervane. These were commonplace in Europe and America and the reason why is both functional and symbolic.
Firstly, roosters were a great choice as they are perfectly shaped to help catch the wind. The rooster’s tail helped to catch the breeze and allow the weathervane to spin, whereas his beak is similar to the point of the arrow, making the rooster a functional choice.
However, the symbolic reasoning is perhaps more interesting. One interpretation is that the rooster is always the first to rise when the sun does and announce the start of the day.
However, there are also religious connotations to the rooster which may further explain why they are so commonly seen on weathervanes, specifically on those placed atop churches.
In the bible, it was said that St Peter would deny Jesus thrice before the rooster crowed, due to this the rooster became an associated symbol of St Peter.
This led to many churches adopting the rooster as the emblem of St Peter, choosing to adorn their weathervanes with this religious symbol. In the 9th century, the pope decreed that all churches must display a rooster, which caused them to become even more widespread.