The Chinese Zodiac
Chinese New Year is on Sunday, February 10, 2013. The day also marks the beginning of the Year of the Water Snake in the Chinese zodiac calendar.
The snake is one of 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac (Shēngxiào, or 生肖), which is based on a 12-year cycle.
How does the Chinese zodiac work?
Each of the 12 years in the Chinese zodiac cycle is represented by an animal associated with five elemental signs. The animals are:
- Zi (rat)
- Chou (ox)
- Yin (tiger)
- Mao (rabbit)
- Chen (dragon)
- Si (snake)
- Wu (horse)
- Wei (sheep)
- Shen (monkey)
- You (rooster)
- Xu (dog)
- Hai (boar/pig)
The zodiac traditionally starts with the Year of the Rat and cycles continuously. These animal signs are calculated in accordance with the Chinese calendar, which is lunisolar and predates the Gregorian calendar. The Chinese calendar is based on exact astronomical observances of the sun’s longitude and the moon’s phases.
Zodiac animal and human connections
According to the Chinese zodiac, your birth year tells you more than just your age. It is believed that there is a special relationship between people and the animals in the Chinese zodiac. This belief, which can be traced back to the Han Dynasty (206 BCE – 220 CE), is based on the idea that one's personality is affected by the animal their birth year is associated with.
It is also believed that some relationships are more compatible than others depending on one’s zodiac (like the western astrological zodiac based on months). Unlike the western zodiac, the Chinese zodiac animals are not associated with constellations.
There are also 5 elements in the zodiac associated with the animals and their personalities:
As the year 2013 is the Year of the Water Snake, it is believed that those born under the sign of the Water Snake are financially lucky as money will most likely flow their way, like flowing water.
The Year of the Snake
The Year of the Snake (Si) comes after the Year of the Dragon (Chen) and before the Year of the Horse (Wu) in the Chinese calendar. During Spring Festival, people paste the sign for “happiness” on their doors and windows. They also display paintings and drawings showing a snake twisting around a rabbit. This is a popular pattern that symbolizes wealth. The Year of the Water Snake, 2013, starts on February 10, 2013 and ends on Jan 30, 2014, in the Gregorian calendar.
People born in the Year of the Snake are believed to be wise, charming, romantic and intuitive. It is also thought that Snakes tend to be overly cautious, jealous and fickle.
Careers and Compatibility
According to superstition, if you are born in the Year of the Snake, you would be most content as a teacher, philosopher, writer, psychiatrist or fortune teller. It is also believed that a snake is most compatible with the ox and the rooster, but least compatible with the tiger and the pig.
Famous people born in a Year of the Snake include:
- Bob Dylan (singer)
- Brad Pitt (actor)
- Oprah Winfrey (talk show host)
- Virginia Woolf (writer)
What year were you born in?
This table shows which animal sign you are, based on the year you were born in.
|Animal||Year (Gregorian calendar)||Personality characteristics|
|Rat||Imaginative, generous, successful, popular, curious|
|Ox||Confident, honest, patient, conservative, strong|
|Tiger||Sensitive, tolerant, brave, active, resilient|
|Rabbit||Affectionate, kind, gentle, compassionate, merciful|
|Dragon||Enthusiastic, intelligent, lively, energetic, innovative|
|Snake||Charming, intuitive, romantic, highly perceptive, polite|
|Horse||Diligent, friendly, sophisticated, talented, clever|
|Sheep/ Goat||Artistic, calm, reserved, happy, kind|
|Monkey||Witty, lively, flexible, humorous, curious|
|Rooster||Shrewd, honest, communicative, motivated, punctual|
|Dog||Loyal, honest, responsible, courageous, warm-hearted||Pig||Sincere, tolerant, hard-working, honest, optimistic|
Did you know?
Leap years occur every 3 years in the Chinese calendar.
The Chinese calendar normally features 12 months but occasionally has a leap year consisting of 13 months. The next Chinese leap year will be in 2015, the Year of the Sheep.
Disclaimer: This is a general interest article based on traditions and beliefs, and not on scientific evidence.