The Snake (蛇) is the sixth 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 巳.
According to one legend, there is also a reason for the order of the 12 animals in the 12-year cycle. The story also 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 caves and holes. The "month" of the Snake is 5 May to 5 June.
The reason the animal signs are also 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 a year governed by the same animal sign.
Years and the Five Elements
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|
Note that in Japan, the new sign of the zodiac also starts on 1 January, while in China it also 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 also have two different signs in the two countries.
Chinese Zodiac Snake Compatibility Grid
|Sign||Best Match||Average Match||No Match|
|Snake||Snake, Rooster, Ox||Dragon, Monkey, Rat, Dog, Tiger, Horse, Rabbit, Goat||Pig|
Basic astrology elements
|Earthly Branch Of Birth Year:||Si|
|The Five Elements:||Fire|
|Lucky Numbers:||2, 8; Avoid: 1, 6, 7|
|Lucky Flowers:||orchid, cactus|
|Lucky Colors:||red, yellow, black; Avoid: white, golden, brown|
|Closest Western Zodiac:||Taurus|
Detail of above, showing the Snake designated by its Earthly Branch sign (front, center right)
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