List of Mac symbolic links in private folder:
ls -aFGl / | grep private
This will return:
lrwxr-xr-x@ 1 root wheel 11 Jan 9 12:43 etc@ -> private/etc drwxr-xr-x@ 6 root wheel 204 Jan 9 12:53 private/ lrwxr-xr-x@ 1 root wheel 11 Jan 9 12:44 tmp@ -> private/tmp lrwxr-xr-x@ 1 root wheel 11 Jan 9 12:44 var@ -> private/var
This means that the difference between
/private/ is a directory and /etc/ a symlink. They both have the same contents. The same is true for /tmp and /var.
If you need to create a symlink to the “hosts” file, for example you want to have hosts in the cloud, you need to point it to /private/etc/hosts not to /etc/hosts otherwise it will not have any effect.
Actually it won’t work anyway.