Year of the Snake Draws Hisses

At The Wall Street Journal, Te-Ping Chen and Fiona Law describe Hong Kong’s lukewarm welcome for the Year of the Snake: The coming year […] suffers because it is considered a “blind year,” meaning it won’t include the first day of spring. Because the Chinese use a lunar calendar, the first day of the new year typically falls between late January and mid-February. But spring always starts in early February—this year, on Feb. 4—while the Year of the Snake doesn’t begin until Feb. 10. That means the Year of the Dragon had two first days of spring—one at the start and one at the end—while the Year of the Snake will have none. For all of these reasons, wedding halls and maternity wards have been packed for the past year, in particular in recent months. “We were almost restless, with wedding banquets almost every day between November and December, as clients were rushing to complete weddings during the Year of the Dragon,” said Sam Ip, spokeswoman for Chinese restaurant group Federal Restaurants Group Ltd., which has 16 outlets in Hong Kong. “We’ve seen fewer inquiries for the coming year, as it’s a blind year.” It’s not just blindness and general uncuddliness that have dampened the Snake’s reception, as Geremie Barmé explains at The China Story: A certain wariness surrounds the Snake, one of the twelve zoological signs of the traditional Chinese calendar, and not only because the reptile inspires fear and repulsion. The Chinese word ‘snake’ she 蛇 is homophonous with she 折 ‘to break’ or ‘lose’. Business people in particular regard the snake with some trepidation since she ben 折本, ‘diminished capital’, hardly chimes with the usual New Year’s benedictions to make money 发财 and enjoy good fortune 吉利. Even greater is the anxiety that things may start out ...
« Back to Article

Comments are closed.