Gung Hei Fat Choy! It’s another Chinese New Year, and this one’s the Year of the Snake. It starts today and runs until January 31, 2014, after which we’re in the Year of the Horse (although some people in the UK and Europe may argue that the year of the horse is already upon us).
Some of the other animals in the Chinese zodiac get lots of love, such as the Dragon, whose year we just came from, or the Tiger. There are always stories about people either postponing or rushing business deals, weddings or even childbirths just so that they fall during those years. Dragon and Tiger are so respected that stuntmen in Hong Kong films — Jackie Chan and his ilk, who often performed with little or no safety equipment — described their way of living as lung fu mo shi, or “Dragon Tiger!”; a close North American equivalent might be “Kick-ass”.
On the other hand, the Chinese have the same opinion of snakes as Indiana Jones:
As with Western culture, snakes are also viewed with suspicion in Chinese culture, and the year of the snake is often associated with trouble. The last Year of the Snake was 2001, which is often associated with 9/11. I agree with comedian Lewis Black’s summary of that year:
So my review for 2001 the year is the same as for 2001: A Space Odyssey. It went on too long, it was hard to follow and you could only enjoy it if you were really, really stoned.
The Year of the Snake before that was 1989, which was a year associated with a number of terrible things including the Loma Prieta Earthquake, the Tienanmen Square Massacre (although the Chinese government says it never happened), and Milli Vanilli’s album, Girl You Know It’s True. The previous Year of the Snake was 1977, the year Jimmy “History’s Greatest Monster” Carter took over as President of the United States, when James Dobson formed Focus on the Family, and when the Starland Vocal Band (a one-hit wonder with their single Afternoon Delight, which as a ten-year-old, I thought was about the arrival of the ice cream truck) won the Grammy for artist of the year.
This guy was born on a Year of the Snake:
(Whether that’s good or bad depends on your perspective.)
Not only does each year have an animal associated with it, but also a colour and an element from Wu Xing (Chinese philosophy):
So this year is the Year of the Black Water Snake, or as I like to call it:
Fortune tellers in Asia aren’t too jazzed about this year. Singapore’s “Grand Master” Tan Khoon Yong of geomancy consultancy Way OnNet Group (there are such things as geomancy consultants?) says:
“This is a disaster year… a lot of things will not go smoothly. The European Union may split, the euro may be in trouble.”
Chow Hon-ming, a Hong Kong astrologer, says:
“Things will be very intense between Japan and China. Tensions will rise to a peak and they will possibly go to war.”
Personally, I think you should give these predictions as much credence as say, these:
Want to know more about the Snake in Chinese astrology? Here’s a good place to start.
Happy Chinese New Year, everyone!