Goodbye to the year of the Water Dragon, and hello to the year of the Water Snake!
I'm not sure if it's common knowledge that the Chinese calendar doesn't only rotate between the 12 animals, but also by the 5 elements: Metal, Water, Wood, Fire, and Earth.
This means, a complete cycle isn't every 12 years, it's every 60 years.
Each element also has a corresponding colour, and water is black.
Each animal also has a fixed element, in the case of Snake, it's Fire... so yes, that's separate (and seemingly conflicts with) the element cycle.
And then there's a yin/yang cycle. This new year falls under yin.
...and then there's the Heavenly stem, the Earthly branch, the Four Pillars, the Four Trines, the Solar/agriculture calendar...
It gets really complicated.
Personally I don't believe in astrology, but I do find systems like this interesting, for it's a way of categorizing and explaining the world.
I was born under a lucky animal (#8), my element is earth, which is the stabilizing element, it's associated with the colour green, and I fall into the yin side of the yin/yang cycle.
Whew... that's a mouthful to keep track of...
When looking at the qualities of my animal/element year, at best, only 50% could be considered reasonably accurate, which is pretty normal in astrology... vague enough that people can always apply some aspects to themselves.
Do you know what element/animal year you were born in? The wiki page is pretty good, and a fast Google search turned up this site, which is interesting because, if you scroll down to the end of the page, it matches each Chinese animal (year of birth) with each Western astrological sign (month of birth). There are also sites where you can plug in the longitude/latitude of the place you were born, and the exact time, and it'll give you a full readout of lucky/unlucky days/years/decades/etc.
Lots of fun, and it's a great time-waster ;)