Year of the Snake

Ang with python in VietnamI’ve always liked snakes.

I know some people will find that statement inconceivable. The ophidiophobes among you, those who look at the photos accompanying this post and shudder. Perhaps your phobia about snakes is so strong, you stop reading and shut the page lest you give yourself nightmares.

I understand because while I’ve always liked snakes, I am terrified of rodents, particularly rats. Banal as phobias go,  but there you have it. And seeing as how snakes eat rodents, ergo I like snakes. Rat (eating) snakes are my favourites.

In the Chinese horoscope, I am born in the Year of the Horse. Coincidentally, the nemesis year for people born in the Year of the Horse is the Year of the Rat, which last occurred in 2008. I’m quite superstitious — which I think of as a legacy of my Catholic upbringing — and when I read that during the Year of the Rat, a Horse year person should wear an Ox pendant to improve their luck, I wore one in my earring every day that year. As it turned out, 2008 is one of my favourite years on record.

February 10 marks the start of the Chinese Year of the Water Snake, according to the Lunar calendar. I’ve read different predictions for what the year might entail. Snakes are skin shedders, so it stands to reason that we might expect a year of transformation and change.

Portrait with boa

The more pessimistic soothsayers predict a venomous, disastrous year, citing infamous events that have taken place in previous Snake years: the 1929 stock market crash, the 1941 bombing of Pearl Harbour, the crushing of the pro-democracy uprising in Tiananmen Square in 1989, the attack on the World Trade Centre’s twin towers in New York in 2001…

On a brighter note, entertainment industries are predicted to flourish, and as a writer with a new book coming out in July, I’m taking heart, especially as snakes — specifically cobras — play a significant part in said new book.

The recurring advice I’ve read in various forecasts is to focus, plan ahead, pay attention to detail, be disciplined and strategise to make the most of the Year of the Snake. Not a year that favours drama or spontaneity.

My favourite prediction though, is the one that says the Year of the Snake will bring double “Flower of Romance” to Horse people like me, warning:

For married animal sign horse, it is advised to avoid going to night clubs, erotic bars and so on. Need to manage relationship wisely as there are 2 romance stars in place. It is better to date your spouse for dirty weekends.

Gotta love a soothsayer who tells a married person to avoid erotic bars and date their spouses for dirty weekends.

Chinese NY Tash AngMy family celebrates Chinese New Year in Melbourne. We head into Chinatown in time to see the parade of the Millennium Dragon, the largest processional dragon in the world. We have a regular viewing spot from where we can touch the dragon as it passes, said to bring good luck for the year. Once this ritual is complete, we head to the New Kum Den restaurant for a yum cha lunch. If we have the time and energy, we participate in some of the wonderful activities on offer in Chinatown on the day.

Oh, and I’ll be shopping for a key chain pendant of a goat, said to protect Horses in the Year of the Snake.

To all my friends in China: Gong Xi Fa Cai

And in Vietnam: Chúc mừng năm mới

Elsewhere: Happy New Year of the Snake.

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About Angela Savage

Angela Savage is a Melbourne-based crime writer, who has lived and travelled extensively in Asia. Her first novel, Behind the Night Bazaar won the 2004 Victorian Premier's Literary Award for an unpublished manuscript. She is a winner of the Scarlet Stiletto Award and has thrice been shortlisted for Ned Kelly awards. Her third novel, The Dying Beach, was also shortlisted for the 2014 Davitt Award. Angela teaches writing and is currently studying for her PhD in Creative Writing at Monash University.
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8 Responses to Year of the Snake

  1. Angela – What really interesting information! I honestly don’t know nearly, nearly enough about the Chinese Zodiac. As to snakes? I’m not phobic about them in general although of course, I have a healthy respect for the ones that can do you damage. But snakes that eat mice and rats? They’re my friends. I feel the same way about bats. Most of them where I’ve lived eat mosquitos and other bugs. What’s not to like about that?

    Like

    • angelasavage says:

      Margot, I lived so long in Asia, I can almost rattle off the Chinese horoscopes by rote!

      I agree with you about bats. Although I used to think of them as rats with wings, I’ve come around to their virtues. I’ve been reading recently about bats in Borneo (our holiday destination in June this year) and the bats in one cave in Northeastern Sarawak allegedly devour 30 tonnes of mosquitoes every night. Though one questions who did the calculations and how, I find it fascinating that mosquito bites are almost unheard of in this particular place.

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  2. Khim says:

    Not a year that favours drama or spontaneity !? Gosh, i see trying times ahead for me…..
    Speaking of being superstitious, someone who had lived for several years in Malaysia – and hence, I assumed should know better about Malaysian/Chinese culture – sent me a Happy New Year greeting and attached a photo of some dead fishes in a market somewhere in Oman….

    Like

  3. kathy d. says:

    Not a fan of either snakes or bats, I’m glad I live in a big city where I’m apt not to run into either one, although the insect and rodents could use population control methods here.
    Happy Chinese New Year to your family. Great occasion to celebrate, especially with a special lunch.

    Like

  4. kathy d. says:

    P.S. Wanted to add that the photos with this post are lovely, full of life and fun.

    Like

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