As we introduced in the article of What is Chinese Spring Festival, each year is associated with a particular animal from a cycle of twelve in Chinese astrology: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig. The animals always appear in the same order so that if you know the current year, you can always work out which one is to influence the following Chinese New Year.
This year is the year of the snake. Anything with a snake theme is in vogue this year – from sportswear to gadgets and accessories, to fashion, footwear and even stamps. The following are the four stamps for the Year of the Snake designed by Wu Guanying.
Most people are interested to find out what sign they are in the Chinese zodiac system, particularly since – like the Western system – each person is supposed to have characteristics similar to those of the sign which relates to their birthdate. True Chinese astrologers, however, eschew the use of the animal symbols in isolation to analyse a person’s life, seeing the zodiac sighs as mere entertainment.
These animal signs have existed in Chinese folk tradition since the sixth century BC, though it wasn’t until the third century BC that they were incorporated into a formal study of astrology and astronomy, based around the device of the lunar calendar.
Quite why animals emerged as the vehicle for Chinese horoscope is unclear: One story has it that the animals used are the twelve which appeared before the command of Buddha, who named the years in the order in which the animals arrived. Another says that the Jade Emperor held a race to determine the fastest animals. The first twelve to cross a chosen river would be picked to represent the twelve earthly branches which make up the cyclical order of years in the lunar calendar.
Your sign depends on the year you were born rather than the month as in the Western system, but beyond that the idea is the same: born under the sign of a particular animal, you will have certain characteristics, ideal partners, lucky and unlucky days.
For example, people who were born in the year of the snake (ie. 1917, 1929, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989……) are supposed to have the following characterises:
Charming, but possessive and selfish, private and secretive; strange sense of humour; mysterious and inquisitive; ruthless; likes the nice things in life; a thoughtful person, but superstitious. Does it look right to you?
Partners: best suited for marriage to Dragon, Rooster and Ox; avoid Snake, Pig and Tiger.
Famous Snakes: J. F. Kennedy, Mao Zedong, Pablo Picasso, Franz Schubert and Ferdinand Marcos, etc.
Simon Millar, Adidas’ vice-president of marketing in China, said: “The Spring Festival and shengxiao, or the Chinese zodiac, is special in Chinese culture.
“These snake-inspired designs represent the real spirit of Chinese New Year.”