According to one 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 5 May to 5 June.
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, but with a tendency to be somewhat unscrupulous.
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 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.
|The Five Elements:||Fire|
|Lucky Numbers:||2, 8, 9; Avoid: 1, 6, 7|
|Lucky Flowers:||orchid, cactus|
|Lucky Colors:||red, light yellow, black; Avoid: white, golden, brown|
The Snake is the 6th of the 12 signs and belongs to the Second Trine, together with the Ox (2nd sign, ?, Earthly Branch) and the Rooster (10th sign, ?/? [simplified Chinese], Earthly Branch), with which it is most compatible.
Detail of above, showing the Snake designated by its Earthly Branch sign (front, center right)
Chinese astrological Snake