The Chinese zodiac consists of 12 different animals that rotate around a 12-year cycle. Starting with rat and ending with pig, they take turns to accompany the lunar calendar.
For centuries, it has been held that there exists a special relationship between human beings and their zodiac animals, similar to Western astrology in relation to personal character. Today, some people still believe to some degree that the zodiac animal affects the disposition of those born in the corresponding year. In turn, the zodiac symbols have their own unique connotations, and are often endowed with positive personality attributes.
Now the Year of the Snake takes prominence, ranking sixth in the zodiac sequence as one of the earliest totems in Chinese history. Contrary to the prevailing concept of the animal in some countries, where it is regarded as a phantom of evil and treachery, the snake has long been associated with good luck and sacredness in China, where it is often described with affectionate sentiment in mythological classics and popular folktales.
Chinese people tend to add great significance to the period in which they were born and treat the recurring years in the zodiac cycle, known as benmingnian, with special caution and care. Many, regardless of age and sex, don red waistbands and socks alongside neck or wrist ornaments tied to red strings to exorcise evil spirits and invoke blessings throughout the year.
At the turn of a Lunar New Year, it has been a customary practice for people to bestow auspicious wishes to those around them, be they family members, friends or colleagues alike. As the Year of the Snake sets in, may we wish you, those born in this particular zodiac period, and the nation, a propitious, prosperous and happy year.