The new year officially arrives for many Asian cultures with the new moon late Sunday night and that has many wondering, according to astrological lore, what the Year of the Snake actually means. 

The Year of the Snake follows the Year of the Dragon in that system’s 12-year cycle.

Going all the way back to Adam and Eve, the cold-blooded and scaly snake has developed a bad reputation.

Every year has its ups and downs, but those years associated with the snake have had some extreme lows, notably the attack on New York’s World Trade Centre in 2001 and the Tiananmen Square protests and mass killings in Beijing in 1989.

But not everyone thinks badly of the Year of the Snake

"They are swift, can be quick, like the economy," said Anita Lau, as she sold stuffed- animal snakes at Aberdeen Mall in Richmond.

"Usually, Year of Snake people born are smart, intelligent, a little cunning."

Feng Shui master Sherman Tai agrees, although he adds that every year is also influenced by an accompanying cycle of the ancient elements. This is not just the Year of the Snake, it’s the Year of the Water Snake.

"It’s very intelligent, calm, patient, waiting for the right time before they attack," said Tai. "For Year of the Snake, [you] need to wait for right timing." 

Tai said it is a year particularly marked by fluctuations. 

"From May to August is right timing for changes to investment, study, love and romance, all these kind of things."

Tai also said the come autumn, some unpredictable things might happen.

With files from the CBC's Deborah Goble