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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - The Year of the Water Snake

The Year of the Water Snake

Immediately following the dragon year in the Chinese 12-year calendar cycle comes the year of the snake.

The Chinese zodiac is widely embraced in Vietnam, Korea and Japan and each of the 12 associated animals are thought to attribute influence on the characteristics of a person born in that year.

In the ideas of the Chinese Zodiac, or Shengxiao, five elements are associated with differing years:  metal, wood, water, fire and earth.  This year, 2013, is the year of the water snake.

In 2012 it marked the last year of the wood cycle, with 2013 marking the beginning of the fire cycle that includes the years of the snake, horse and sheep.

In this snake year, Chinese astrologers say that if one’s lucky element is wood, their fortunes will ebb, but if their lucky element is fire, their fortunes will grow.

In the Chinese tradition, the coming of the lunar New Year calls for a cleaning of the house and the paying off of debts prior to Chinese New Year’s day which comes on Sunday, February 10.  

Using a mix of data about one’s own birth circumstances, Chinese astrology attempts to relate the five elements to the characteristics of the animal in the context of the New Year. The snake is associated largely with fire, along with lesser amounts of metal and earth, and 2013 being a water year means that the opposite elements of water and fire creates conditions for occurrences of both good and bad fortune.

The Chinese astrological tendency for people born in the year of the snake is that they are intuitive yet secretive, intelligent, wise and capable of thinking great thoughts. They are also supposed to be materialistic, seeking the finest possessions but with no patience for shopping, preferring to work independently because they’re easily stressed out.

Snake years include: 1917, 1929, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013, and 2025. Lucky colours are said to be red, yellow and black and lucky numbers 2, 8 and 9.  The associated lucky plants are the orchid and the cactus.

Supposedly people born in the year of the snake are most compatible with people born in the years of the ox, rooster or dragon and least compatible with people born in the years of the tiger, monkey.

People born in the year of the snake are said to be capable of solving complex problems and achieving projects on time. Snake people are expected to make good scientists, sociologists, dieticians, painters, investigators, jewelers, magicians and astrologers.

People born in the snake year could have damaging relationships especially in the presence of people born in tiger and monkey years.

To contact the reporter on this story: Stuart Alan Becker at



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