Traditions of the Chinese Zodiac: Dragon vs. Snake

Chinese Water Dragon

Last year’s symbol: Chinese Water Dragon. Image from Wikipedia.

If you follow the Chinese calendar or read my previous post, you know that the Year of the Dragon is over and the Year of the Snake has begun. But what’s the difference?  Don’t dragons and snakes (both reptiles!) have similar personalities? Let’s take a look:

The Dragon is known for being gifted, intelligent, arrogant, stubborn, passionate, and ruthless. Many people believe that the Dragon year is a lucky year to be born, since the Dragon is accomplished.


Terracotta Zodiac Snake

Terracotta Chinese Zodiac Snake. Image from Wikipedia.

The Snake is known for being materialistic, seductive, and insecure. They are also believed to be creative, intelligent, and obsessive. They make good politicians. Water snakes, associated with 2013, are said to be particularly motivated and influential.

Similarities: Intelligence, relentlessness, motivation, and preference of being alone.

Differences: The Dragon’s confidence, passion, generosity, and temper vs. the Snake’s insecurity, laid-back nature, jealousy, and cool emotions.

As I mentioned last year, I’m not really convinced by the Chinese Zodiac. If I look at it as a fictional invention, it’s a fascinatingly intricate system, with its twelve animals and five elements combining to describe a wide range of personality types. Fiction writers, look no further if you’re looking for character types to flesh out your descriptions of flat characters! As truth, though, the Zodiac doesn’t seem realistic. Not only do the descriptions of my particular Zodiac animal not fully match me, I know many people who were born the same year as I was who are as different from me as night is from day. Think about it—are the people you know who are your age of the same personality as you? Do you believe that all the babies born this year are going to grow into intelligent, seductive loners with major insecurities? It seems like the only traits that fit everyone are the traits that could fit anyone.

To be fair, I would love to hear more from you if you do give the Chinese some credit. I haven’t studied it fully, so if you have a reason to believe that its predictions are significant or a comment on its origins, leave a comment below! Please comment, too, if you know more about the effect, if any, each year’s animal is said to have on the year for those people who were not born that year. Is the Year of the Snake supposed to affect anyone besides the babies born during its time? I haven’t read anything about that angle of these traditions.

This will probably be our last look at the Chinese New Year in the foreseeable future as the calendar moves away from the dragon. In case you’re curious what’s coming next year, it’s… the horse!

Categories: Eastern Tradition | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “Traditions of the Chinese Zodiac: Dragon vs. Snake

  1. I’m a Rat. Never really put much credence in Astrology in any form, Chinese or otherwise. But hey … who knows?

  2. violacat

    I think it’s more of a cultural thing. If a family believes in the Chinese Zodiac which ever year one is born in the family may be influenced to treat the child in the manner of that year day and perhaps even month. Of course each person born within that year will have their own personality.

    • That’s a good point. I’ve seen that the way a person is treated by their family and others around them has an effect on how they view themselves and in turn behave as a person. It’s possible, then, that those who follow the Zodiac actually cause it to be true, at least in part.

  3. Chris Maldonado

    Everyone has any of the characteristics that any zodiac signs have. But each member of each group share many of the SAME characteristics. Don’t know how to describe this any better.

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