Snake (zodiac)

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This article is about the zodiac sign. For other uses, see Snake (disambiguation).

The Snake () is one of the 12-year cycle of animals which appear in the Chinese zodiac and related to the Chinese calendar, as well as in related East Asian zodiacal or calendrical systems. The Year of the Snake is associated with the Earthly Branch symbol .[1]

According to one mythical legend, there is a reason for the order of the 12 animals in the 12-year cycle. The story goes that a race was held to cross a great river, and the order of the animals in the cycle was based upon their order in finishing the race. In this story, the Snake compensated for not being the best swimmer by hitching a hidden ride on the Horse's hoof, and when the Horse was just about to cross the finish line, jumping out, scaring the Horse, and thus edging it out for sixth place.

The same 12 animals are also used to symbolize the cycle of hours in the day, each being associated with a two-hour time period. The "hour" of the Snake is 9:00 to 11:00 a.m., the time when the sun warms up the earth, and Snakes are said to slither out of their holes. The "month" of the Snake is May 5 to June 5.

The reason the animal signs are referred to as "zodiacal" is that one's personality is said to be influenced by the animal sign(s) ruling the time of birth, together with elemental aspects of the animal signs within the sexagenarian (60 year) cycle. Similarly, the year governed by a particular animal sign is supposed to be characterized by it, with the effects particularly strong for people who were born in a year governed by the same animal sign.

In Chinese symbology, Snakes are regarded as intelligent, but with a tendency to be somewhat unscrupulous.[2]

Years and the Five Elements[edit]

People born within these date ranges can be said to have been born in the "Year of the Snake", while also bearing the following elemental sign:

Start date End date Heavenly branch
4 February 1905 24 January 1906 Wood Snake
23 January 1917 10 February 1918 Fire Snake
10 February 1929 29 January 1930 Earth Snake
27 January 1941 14 February 1942 Metal Snake
14 February 1953 2 February 1954 Water Snake
2 February 1965 20 January 1966 Wood Snake
18 February 1977 6 February 1978 Fire Snake
6 February 1989 26 January 1990 Earth Snake
24 January 2001 11 February 2002 Metal Snake
10 February 2013 30 January 2014 Water Snake
29 January 2025 16 February 2026 Wood Snake
15 February 2037 3 February 2038 Fire Snake
2 February 2049 22 January 2050 Earth Snake
21 January 2061 8 February 2062 Metal Snake
7 February 2073 26 January 2074 Water Snake
26 January 2085 13 February 2086 Wood Snake
12 February 2097 31 January 2098 Fire Snake

Note that in Japan the new sign of zodiac starts on January 1, while in China it starts, according to the traditional Chinese lunar calendar, at the new moon that falls between January 21 and February 20, so that persons born in January or February may have two different signs in the two countries.

Basic astrology elements[edit]

Earthly Branch of Birth Year: Si
The Five Elements: Fire (Huo)
Yin Yang: Yin
Lunar Month: Fourth
Lucky Numbers: 2, 8; Avoid: 1, 6, 7
Lucky Flowers: orchid, cactus
Lucky Colors: red, yellow, black; Avoid: white, golden, brown[3]

The Snake is the 6th of the 12 signs and belongs to the Second Trine, together with the Ox (2nd sign, 牛, Earthly Branch: 丑) and the Rooster (10th sign, 雞 / 鷄 [simplified Chinese: 鸡], Earthly Branch: 酉), with which it is most compatible.


Depictions of zodiacal Snakes either solo or in group context with the other eleven zodiacal creatures shows how they have been imagined in the calendrical context.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Snake Horoscope Information Retrieved 28 August 2012.
  2. ^ Eberhard, sub "Snake (She)", p. 268
  3. ^


  • Eberhard, Wolfram (2003 [1986 (German version 1983)]), A Dictionary of Chinese Symbols: Hidden Symbols in Chinese Life and Thought. London, New York: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-00228-1