Today the Tibetan New Year or Losar begins as well as the Chinese New Year. In both systems it is called the Water Snake year. The two new years usually only coincide about a third of the time, for the Tibetans use some different lunar calendar calculations. The Chinese system is easy to grasp: the second new moon after the winter solstice. To make matters even more complicated, however, Chinese astrologers insist the actual new year begins a few days before the New Years Day celebration, this year February 4. But most people don't seem to pay attention to that. In Japan they get real sloppy and just consider the Western year to coincide with the Chinese year.
The "common people" often treat the Losar celebrations as a time to get pretty rowdy at times, a practice common to agricultural societies who wish to invoke the fertility of the soil and stimulate the new year's productivity and energy through their own high-jinks.
This year being a snake year should have something to do with mysticism, reflection, and introversion, all snake characteristics. This combined with the water element signifying travel, communication and networking. The snake year represents a pause between the highly charged energy of the Dragon and Horse years, as it lies in between them. It is perhaps a time to reflect on the past and plan for the future.