Chinese New Year for 2013 is on the 10th of February: the Year of the Water Snake (also known as the Black Snake).
In Chinese Astrology each sign is represented by an animal. There are 12 animal signs in total, each corresponding to a lunar year, with each sign also having 5 elements (Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal & Water). In certain years, particular elements are more prominent. For instance in 2005, the ‘wood’ element is very prominent so therefore it is 2005, Year of the Wood Rooster. The special combination of the Sign and Element only occurs once every 60 years.
As Chinese Astrology is one of the oldest types of Astrology, the origins of naming the years after animals is unknown. But a popular legend is that Buddha (c.563-c.483 B.C) invited all the animals to visit him, and as a demonstration of thanks to those who came, he dedicated a year to each of the animals according to the order in which they arrived: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig.
Previous Years’ Summaries
2009 - Year of the Yin Earth Ox
2008 - Year of the Earth Rat
2007 - Year of the Yin Fire Pig
2006 - Year of the Dog
2005 - Year of the Rooster