Jump to content

Snake (zodiac)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"Snake" in regular Chinese characters
Zodiac snake, showing the shé (蛇) character for snake

The snake () is the sixth of the twelve-year cycle of animals which appear in the Chinese zodiac related to the Chinese calendar. The Year of the Snake is associated with the Earthly Branch symbol .[1]

According to one legend, there is a reason for the order of the animals in the cycle. 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. When the horse was about to cross the finish line, the snake jumped out, scaring the horse, and thus edging it out for sixth place.

The same twelve 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 the 4th month of the Chinese lunar calendar and it usually falls within the months of May through June depending on the Chinese to Gregorian calendar conversion. The reason the animal signs are referred to as zodiacal is that one's personality is said to be influenced by the animal signs ruling the time of birth, together with elemental aspects of the animal signs within the sexagenary 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 any year governed by the same animal sign.

In Chinese symbology, snakes are regarded as intelligent, with a tendency to lack scruples.[2]

Years and 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
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

In Japan, the new sign of the zodiac starts on 1 January, while in China it starts, according to the traditional Chinese calendar, at the new moon that falls between 21 January and 20 February, so that persons born in January or February may have two different signs in the two countries, but persons born in late February (i.e. on or after 20 February) automatically have one sign in both countries.

Basic astrological associations[edit]

Earthly branch: Si
Element: Fire
Planet: Venus
Yin Yang: Yin
Lunar month: Fourth
Lucky numbers: 2, 8, 9
Lucky flowers: Orchid, cactus
Lucky colors: Red, light yellow, black; Avoid: white, golden, brown[3]
Season: Summer

The snake is the sixth of the twelve signs and belongs to the second trine, with the ox (second sign, 牛, Earthly branch: 丑) and the rooster (tenth sign, 雞/鷄 [simplified Chinese: 鸡], Earthly branch: 酉), with which it is most compatible. The pig is the most incompatible.[4]

Cultural notes[edit]

A Snake Year is sometimes referred to as a Little Dragon Year to assuage possible feelings of inadequacy among people born during a Snake Year.[5]


Depictions of zodiacal snakes, alone or with the other eleven signs, show how they have been imagined in the calendrical context.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Snake Horoscope Information Archived 2013-02-17 at archive.today Retrieved 28 August 2012.
  2. ^ Eberhard, sub "Snake (She)", p. 268.
  3. ^ "Chinese Zodiac – Snake". Your Chinese Astrology. Retrieved 14 March 2018.
  4. ^ Vansu Calendar, 23 January 2023
  5. ^ Lary, Diana (2022). China's grandmothers : gender, family, and aging from late Qing to twenty-first century. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press. p. 37. ISBN 978-1-009-06478-1. OCLC 1292532755.


  • 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
  • Vietnam Veterans for Factual History (2015). Indochina in the Year of the Snake, 1965. p. 288. ISBN 9781929932658.

External links[edit]