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2013: The Year of the Snake

February 8, 2013 | Winona | Comments (0)

Happy New Year! According to the lunar calendar, Sunday February 10, 2013, marks the start of the Year of the Snake. To celebrate the Year of the Snake, I thought I would take you on a serpentine tour of some Toronto Public Library resources related to Chinese New Year and to the animal of the year: the snake!

Year of the Snake Canada Post stamp
Canada Post Year of the Snake stamp
  • You can learn all about Chinese New Year in books for both children and adults.
  • Did you know you can take a free lesson in conversational Mandarin Chinese online through the library? Connect to the Mango Language Learning online database - you just need your library card and an e-mail account to get started.
  • Or, if you are already fluent in Mandarin, consider joining the Mandarin Book Club at the Albert Campbell branch. Toronto Public Library also offers book clubs in Cantonese at other branches.

The snake is the sixth in a cycle of 12 animals in Chinese astrology. It is the most enigmatic sign of the Chinese zodiac, and is said to symbolize intuition, beauty, and grace, as well as cunning and possessiveness. Those born in the Year of the Snake - 2013, 2001, 1989, 1977, 1965, 1953, 1941, and so on in 12 year recurrences - may share these characteristics.

Learn more about the Chinese zodiac and your animal sign, and find out what the Year of the Snake has in store for you:

The Guide to Chinese Horoscopes by Gerry Thompson
The Guide to Chinese Horoscopes
Your Chinese Horoscope 2013 by Neil Somerville
Your Chinese Horoscope 2013
The Handbook of Chinese Horoscopes by Theodora and Laura Lau
The Handbook of Chinese Horoscopes
The Complete Guide to Chinese Astrology by Derek Walters
The Complete Guide to Chinese Astrology

Just as each year in the 12-year cycle is associated with an animal sign, each animal sign is associated with one of five recurring elements: Metal, Water, Wood, Fire, and Earth. 2013 is the Year of the Water Snake.

Read about the lives of notable people born in the Year of the Water Snake:   

Johannes Brahms by Jan Swafford
Johannes Brahms 
Benazir Bhutto autobiography
Benazir Bhutto
Mao by Alexander Pantsov
Mao Zedong
Oprah by Kitty Kelley
Oprah Winfrey
Mary Pickford by Eileen Whitfield
Mary Pickford

Western Diamondback Rattlesnake
Western Diamondback Rattlesnake from Animals: A Visual Encyclopedia
Olive Sea Snake skeleton
Olive Sea Snake skeleton from Animals: A Visual Encyclopedia

Snakes are both feared and worshipped throughout the world and appear frequently in religion and myth.
  • According to the Judeo-Christian creation narrative, the serpent tricks Eve into eating the forbidden fruit and, as a result, God condemns Adam, Eve, and the serpent for their transgression.
  • In Greek mythology, the Gorgon monster Medusa has living snakes for hair and turns all those who look at her to stone.
  • The Hindu deity Shiva wears a garland of serpents around his neck that signify his power of destruction and renewal, just as the snake has the power to shed its skin and be reborn.
  • The religious ritual of snake handling is practiced in some Pentecostal churches whose believers look to literal interpretations of the Bible to support their practice.
Medusa by Caravaggio
Medusa by Caravaggio

Curl up with a good book about snakes in the scientific and cultural imagination:

The Subtle Beast by André Ménez The Subtle Beast: Snakes, from Myth to Medicine

The Fruit, the Tree, and the Serpent by Lynne A. Isbell The Fruit, the Tree, and the Serpent: Why We See So Well

The Good and Evil Serpent by James H. Charlesworth
The Good and Evil Serpent: How a Universal Symbol Became Christianized 
Mean and Lowly Things by Kate Jackson
Mean and Lowly Things: Snakes, Science, and Survival in the Congo
Stolen World by Jennie Erin Smith
Stolen World: A Tale of Reptiles, Smugglers, and Skulduggery











Or just tune everything else out and have a listen to the killer sounds of Toronto's own Deadly Snakes, then check out the book about the band.


Snakes not really your thing? Don't worry, you're not alone!


Happy Year of the Snake everybody!


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The Albert Campbell District Blog is an online resource and place where you can access information related to the Albert Campbell, Eglinton Square, McGregor Park, and Kennedy Eglinton branches. It will feature reading recommendations, information on new titles and resources in the branches, special events and programs, as well as other information of interest to you. We encourage you to make this blog an interactive space by replying and commenting on posts and by subscribing to the RSS feature which allows you to receive blog updates without having to search for them.