On Live with Kelly and Michael, they discussed the upcoming Chinese New Year animal on Feb. 6, 2013. According to the source Kelly referenced, it seems that the black snake year is "an opportunity to get disciplined and focused." "Slow and steady" is the motto for this year.
(image by Lena Sokel. Check out more of her beautiful compositions, http://www.lenasokol.blogspot.com/)
The best explanation and most beautiful image are at this site:
A few traits of the new snake year, according to solidglow:
enigmatic, intuitive, introspective, refined, mobility, dynamism, changeability, unpredictability and mystery
Also, it seems we should be celebrating CNY on the 4th this year. So get started making friends with your black/water snake.
Learn more about the structure of Chinese New Year here: http://www.chinesefortunecalendar.com/2013.htm .
Specifically, why this "year of the snake" had been dubbed "Year of the Black Snake" or "Year of the Water Snake". There's a stem-branch-element-element thing going on. Black is the color associated with the water element. It's very complicated, so I'll let someone who can explain it better explain it better.