This Sunday, February 10, marks the start of the Chinese Lunar Year 4711 and the kickoff of the Year of the Snake. That’s the Year of the Water Snake, to be exact, two labels that are all-important in predicting what lies ahead in 2013.
The Chinese New Year begins on the new moon of the New Year (the darkest day) and ends 15 days later when the moon is full. To celebrate the occasion, Chinese families typically scour their houses to make way for good luck while joining in festivities centered on good wishes for health and prosperity. Key to the Chinese New Year celebration is the dedication of the New Year to one of the 12 animals signs of the Chinese zodiac.
This year’s honoree is the Snake, the 6th animal sign in the Chinese zodiac. The other signs include the dragon, horse, monkey, rat, boar, rabbit, dog, rooster, ox, tiger, and ram. The Snake follows the Dragon, which is considered to be the most powerful and lucky of all the zodiac signs.
While ancient Chinese wisdom says that a snake in the house is a good omen, the sign has also been associated with some of the most tumultuous events in history. Snake years recur every 12 years and in the recent past have fallen on the following dates;
1905 1917 1929 1941 1953 1965 1977 1989 2001
Dates that also correspond to the Great Depression of 1929, the 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall and government crackdown on Tiananmen Square as well as the September 11, 2001 attacks.
Characteristics of people born in the Year of the Snake
Often associated with cattiness and mystery and sometimes malice, the Snake can also stand for such benevolent qualities as intelligence, introspection and intuition. People who are born in the Year of the Snake are known for their attention to detail, singular ability to focus and intellectual discipline.
Snakes are contemplative and private. Outwardly they exhibit few emotions, saving their affection for family and friends. While Snakes have few friends, the ones they do have last a lifetime. Snakes can be influential and insightful, are capable of managing others well and possess good organizational skills.
People born in the Year of the Snake are often attractive, exhibiting a ‘silky beauty’. They are graceful and refined and do not fluster easily. A sixth sense is often common to Snakes, who are, themselves, great appreciators of beauty.
The slippery slope is that Snakes also will often plot and scheme to achieve their goals. They can be clever and enigmatic. They can be complex human beings who are keen and cunning.
The Snake’s impact on the world’s stock markets
Traditionally the Snake has had a negative effect on Asian stock markets. In a tongue-in-cheek prediction of the animal sign’s impact on 2013, the Hong Kong brokerage, CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets, released a statement Wednesday. Said Mariana Kou, spokesperson for CLSA and unofficial ‘sorcerer’s apprentice,’
‘The snake is a skin shedder. That signifies radical changes.’
Leave it to the public to interpret that as they will.
Celebrations in and around Washington, DC
Locally in Washington, DC, preparations are underway for the Chinese New Year Parade, which includes the Dragon Dance, kung fu demonstrations and live entertainment. Events will take place in Chinatown Sunday, February 10 from 1 – 3:30 pm. Chinatown is located on H Street, NW between 6th and 8th Streets. See photos from last year's event here.
In Maryland, visit Lake Forest Mall to see Chinese New Year’s decorations and exhibits displayed throughout the shopping complex as well as the traditional Lion and Dragon dances and martial arts demonstrations. Exhibits run from February 4-17 and are located at 701 Russell Avenue, Gaithersburg, Maryland.
To find your own animal sign on the Chinese zodiac, visit the interactive web site Travel China Guide, simply plug in your date of birth and hit Search.