An Annotated & Illustrated Collection of Worldwide Links to Mythologies,
Fairy Tales & Folklore, Sacred Arts & Sacred Traditions
by Kathleen Jenks, Ph.D.

LUNAR NEW YEAR 2001-2002:

YEAR of the Metal Snake
(January 24, 2001 - February 11, 2002)

The next Lunar New Year page is at: Lunar New Year
My previous 2000-2001 Year of the Dragon page is now found at: Lunar Archives: Dragon

Amaterasu Omikami

"The Great Goddess Spirit Shining in Heaven, this Japanese Sun Goddess ruled weaving and agriculture....The snake, draped on her arm, holds her brother's sword which she broke into 3 pieces that became Goddesses...."
(Art and text © Sandra Stanton and used with her kind permission)
11th Hour Update, 28 December 2001, 10:22pm,
Author's Note:
The current Year of the Metal Snake is nearly over -- just another 6-7 weeks and we'll enter the Year of the Horse.  I actually started the new Horse Year page several weeks ago and will launch it soon, but in the meantime,  I've been thinking about the Snake Year we're still in.  Shelly Wu (see site directly below) saw the year as "auspicious," "wise and deeply feeling," a time when "our concerns turn toward inner-growth, spirituality and discovering the reasons behind things."

All that has been true, but not for the reasons I had hoped when I launched this page 11 months ago.  What I left out in the passage I originally quoted from Shelly Wu's site was what she said about the closing months of this Snake Year.  It had seemed too ominous to me when I was working on this page last January.  Now, in retrospect, the accuracy of the words are eerie -- for the record, I'd like to add these excerpts to my page tonight:

"Da she bu si, houhuan wuqiong"
Translation: Unless you beat a Snake to death, it will cause endless trouble in future.  Meaning: If evil is not eliminated completely, it will not rest until it has destroyed us....

   ... The ending or culminating months of hidden and covert Metal Snake years tend to strike a deadly bite. Sixty years ago, in December of 1941, the secretive and stealthy Metal Snake year brought an infamous example of this: The surprise attack upon Pearl harbor....
From Shelly Wu comes this attractive, well written page on the Year of the Metal Snake, an auspicious year, following upon the equally auspicious dragon year, according to Chinese astrology.  [Wu's home page is double-listed on my Star Lore page.]
On January 24, 2001, we enter into the wise and deeply feeling sign of the Snake. The nature of a Snake year is "gradual and gathered strength," bringing a more mental than physical year. During Snake years, our concerns turn toward inner-growth, spirituality and discovering the reasons behind things....A creative, artistic year, filled with pleasure, enlightenment and beauty. Music, dance, art galleries and museums thrive. The Snake is uninterested in public displays or applause and 2001 brings a slower paced, quiet, behind-the-scenes lifestyle.  A deep-thinking, philosophical year, where intuition and all things middle-of-the-road reign supreme....

[From last year's Dragon Year page from Shelly Wu:] ...our planet should progress quite nicely in the next two years, which correspond to the years of the ‘lucky’ Metal Dragon, and the ‘wise’ Metal Snake. As a matter-of-fact, these two years are thought to be better than average in the twelve year cycle that is the Chinese zodiacal system....

After discussing the overall meaning of the Snake Year, Wu offers her comments on what it'll mean to the other signs.  (To find out what your animal and element is, go to her monthly horoscope page and fill in the brief pop-up chart at:
[28 December 2001: this site is in transition and nothing currently works.  Hopefully, the revisions will be made in time for the Year of the Horse.  Here is the home page so that you can keep checking:]
From "Asian Family" comes another fine site on Lunar New Year.  About this Snake Year:
...The Millennium Dragon brought us wild up and down swings.  To bring life back to balance and harmony, the Snake will give us a chance to rest and reassess our personal situation. It's time to think about finances, career goals, and relationships.

But be cautious before making any commitments. Snake years are usually mysterious to most zodiac animals. Visibility is low.  You need to do due diligence and cover your bases....

Included in the page's general information is a fascinating Arts & Crafts section for children -- also Resources: if you click on the link, you'll find essays plus many family and classroom-oriented, annotated links to dragons and/or serpents, festive lore, customs, food, photos, Asian astrology, and much more.  Here are five of the most important categories:
[12/28/01: broken link -- see above]
This page provides an exceptionally wide range of annotated links to Chinese New Year: history, lore, lanterns, food, dance, dragon costumes, art, games, cards to send, and much more.  For a good essay on Chinese New Year, including tradional symbolism and do's and don'ts, click here: [12/28/01: broken link -- see above]
[12/28/01: broken link -- see above]
These are annotated links for Korean New Year -- I only had time to check the first two but found the first one (Click Asia) informative and beautifully illustrated, and the second one (Korean Insights) a great resource for children, especially the delightfully illustrated folk tales.  There are also links to more academically oriented data.  For a brief essay on Korean New Year, click here: [12/28/01: broken link -- see above]
[12/28/01: broken link -- see above]
This an extensive collection of annotated links to the Vietnamese Tet celebration -- the links include folklore, customs, the Vietnamese zodiac, food, art, and college term papers with many well researched details (and bibliographies).  Of those I checked, the quality was first rate.
[12/28/01: broken link -- see above]
This page has annotated links to Japanese New Year: there are fewer links here because many Japanese celebrate the New Year from January 1-3 instead of using the more traditional lunar calendar [see below].  Nevertheless, though few, the links are well chosen, especially those for children on special New Year's toys and games.
[12/28/01: broken link --
I've e-mailed for an update]
These are terrific "interactive" animated stories on Asian & European Dragons -- the eight little "chapters" each take a few minutes to load, but they're worth the wait (you can choose versions with or without sound).  [This site is double-linked on my Dragons & Serpents page].
Tibetan New Year
[Added 1 March 2001]:  A few days ago Dharma Publishing sent customers an e-mail of special bargains for Tibetan New Year (beginning 24 February 2001 and lasting for a week).  They included great data on traditions connected with this Metal Snake Lunar New Year celebration.  I checked their website to see if they had a page on this.  They did not.  I wrote to see if they planned to launch one and, if not, could I?  They gave me their gracious permission to reprint their e-mailed material.  I created a special page for this -- the above link will take you there.  Enjoy!  <smile>
Don't miss this page from Jun Shan, the Chinese Culture guide at, who tells an ancient tale of a fierce monster named Nian and a wise old man who saved his people from Nian.  This story lies at the root of Chinese New Year.  (Note: this tale is mentioned briefly on other sites but this is the only place where I found the full story.)

[12/28/01: addendum -- since has recently been recklessly slashing their excellent guides' sites, I'm going to rescue this psychologically astute story lest it too vanish:]

...The legend says, long ago, there was a monster called Nian. It was born to be very ugly and ferocious, which looked like either dragons or unicorns. On the first and the 15th of each lunar month, the monster would come down from the mountains to hunt people. So people were very much afraid of it and locked their doors early before sunset on the days of its coming.

There lived an old wise man in a village. He thought it was the panic in people that made the monster so bold and furious. Thus the old man asked people to organize together and to conquer the monster by means of beating drums and gongs, burning bamboo, and lighting fireworks in purpose of making large noises to threaten the hateful monster. When he told people about the idea, everybody agreed on it.

At a moonless and freezing cold night, the monster, Nian, appeared again. The moment it opened its mouth at people, burst out the frightening noises and fire made by people, and wherever the monster went, it was forced to back off by the terrible noises. The monster couldn't stop running until he fell down with exhaustion. Then people jumped up and killed the evil monster. Savage as the monster was, he lost in the end under the efforts from the cooperation of people.

Since then, people have kept the tradition by beating drums and gongs, and lighting fireworks at the coldest day in winter to drive the imagined monsters away and to celebrate the victory over it. Today, Nian refers to the New Year's day or the Spring Festival. People often say Guo Nian, which means 'live the festival.' Furthermore, Nian also means the year. For an example, the Chinese often greet each other by saying Xin Nian Hao, which means Happy New Year! Xin means new and Hao means good....
Again from Jun Shan comes a charming page on each household's "Kitchen God" (a kind of cosmic spy), whose feast falls a week before Chinese New Year.  On this day the deity returns to heaven to make a report on the family's good or ill deeds over the preceding year.  Read the page to find out how the family makes sure the report is in their favor.  It gives a whole new meaning to the concept of "sacrifice."
[12/28/01: addendum -- again, since has recently been slashing their guides' sites, I'm going to rescue the passage I mentioned above, lest it too vanish:]

...Traditionally the Spring Festival actually begins its course a week before the Chinese New Year (the 23th of the last month from Chinese lunar calendar), with the practice of offering a sacrifice to the Kitchen God, a god sent from Heaven to each family to take charge of family's affairs and make a report on what the family has done in the past year to Heaven annually on the date of the 23th. Strangely enough, the sacrifice to the Kitchen God is a lotus root-like sticky cake made of a kind of confection, a typical Chinese traditional candy, instead of the usual cows, pigs or sheep. The purpose of the practice is compromising, for people are making full use of the sticky cake to prevent the Kitchen God from speaking ill of the family in Heaven by sticking his mouth. Of course, it seems to be quite a tacit agreement between the Kitchen God and his prayers; he is always accepting the sweet food from the people around. This tradition is no longer popular in cities now, but may still be observed in some areas of countryside....

Note:  both this page and the one directly above are two among many interesting links on Jun Shan's index for ChineseNew Year's found at:
From Inside China Today comes another page on Chinese New Year.  Once you scroll past the news headlines, you'll find an opening essay plus a number of excellent related links on Chinese astrology and festive traditions.  Although as of 17 January 2001, this page still focused mostly on the current Year of the Golden Dragon, hopefully, information on the upcoming Year of the Snake (starting 24 January 2001) will soon replace this.  Direct links to lovely pages on "Peach Wood Charms" and the "Lantern Festival" will be found below........
This is "Peach Wood Charms and Evil Spirits, a reference to red papers adorning Chinese doors at Lunar New Year.  The red papers replace charms originally carved or painted on peach wood:
...According to legend, two brothers, Shennai and Yulei, lived on a beautiful mountain and grew a large grove of peach trees. They often helped the poor fight against monsters and demons. After their death, the two brothers became gods in heaven and were ordered by the Supreme Deity of Heaven to punish the evil spirits. The story says the spirits were so scared of the two brothers that even the mere sight of the peach trees they had planted would be enough to scare the spirits away, hence the peach wood charms....
This brief page from Inside China Today looks at the lantern festival held in China on the 15th day of the first lunar month:
...In ancient China, new year celebrations started from New Year's Eve and reached a second climax during the Lantern Festival....
The page looks at the charming legend of the Lantern Festival -- it involves  firecrackers, a city full of red lanterns, and a dumpling-making heroine (a palace maid named Yuanxiao).
This is a small and select collection of annotated Chinese New Year links from the Open Directory.  This is a great place to browse if you're looking for more in-depth explanations of Asian beliefs, calendars, astrology, and lore.
[Added 2 February 2000]: From "China the Beautiful" comes a page of lovely graphics which are traditionally hung throughout the house for Chinese New Year's.  The best are from Yanliuqing, which were first produced between 1573 and 1620. There are 3 linked pages here -- be sure to go to the last one where you'll be able to click on a fascinating retelling (richly illustrated) of "The Legend of the White Snake" -- it features a wise heroine (the White Snake),  her loving husband, free herbal medicine given to those who can't afford it, and a return from the dead.  [Here's the White Snake link if you're in a hurry:]

Note: "China the Beautiful" has a wide selection of exceptionally well-done pages focusing on art, literature, culture, and history.  For a listing, go here:
[Added 2 February 2000]:  Again from "China the Beautiful" comes a page on dragons in ancient Chinese architecture, paintings, and on royal robes.
[Added 2 February 2000]:This is an exquisite page on Vietnamese Tet.  It's available in both French and English. [Updated link 12/28/01]
This is an engaging little essay by Japanese American, Dean Toji, on many pan-Asian New Year celebrations -- these range from November to mid-April.[Updated 4/3/00]
As far as I can tell, although New Year's is now generally celebrated January 1-3 in Japan, many of the customs connected with this celebration have simply been shifted from the much older lunar New Year.  Thus, I am including this link on this page as well as on my Solstice/Yuletide page.  This enjoyable site looks at Japanese New Year's customs and offers a wide range of clickable photos depicting decorations, symbols, foods, and much more.

The next Lunar New Year page is at: Lunar New Year

To the previous 2000-2001 Year of the Dragon page

To the Asia menu-page

To Common Themes: Time
(Calendars, Millennial Issues, etc)

To Common Themes: Star Lore & Astrology

To Common Themes: Dragons & Serpents

To Current Winter Greetings & Lore page

To the Imbolc page

To the Annual Springtide Greetings page

© 2000-2002 Kathleen Jenks, Ph.D.

Begun: 17 January 2000 for Dragon Year;
annotated and published 24 January 2000;
Latest Updates:
26 January 2000; 2 February 2000; 3 April 2000.

Published 17 January 2001 for Snake Year: all links checked & revised (where appropriate);
1 March 2001; 11 July 2001 (Ned3.0);
8 November 2001: deleted Sidney Su's entry level site --
he must have sold it and now it's a sleezy site.  I'm furious;
1 December 2001: re-loaded page as 11/8 change "erased" Nedstat;
28-29 December 2001: added an addendum at the beginning;
"rescued" relevant excerpts; & checked all links.