Rabbits are a courageous little species able to live on every continent, except Antarctica. Alongside the beginning of 2023, the new Year of the Rabbit is about to start! Maybe now is the best time to talk about this adorable animal in the eyes of different cultures.
Cultural image of rabbits in China
Rabbits are instinctively quiet but agile, which suits traditional Chinese aesthetic values of being gentle and cultivated. There is a view of rabbits in Chinese culture as being smart and gentle. This is shown by the phrase dongru tuotu, a Chinese idiom praising people who are smart and agile like a rabbit.
Legend has it that there is a Jade Rabbit living on the moon which is the pet of Chang’e, a goddess widely known in China. This can explain why rabbits are regarded as an auspicious sign.
Also, in ancient China, it was common sense that the more children you had, the luckier and happier you would be. This belief made the rabbit a popular sign of good fortune, since rabbits are full of vitality and fertile in nature.
Cultural image of rabbits in the West
Similarly in the West, they are well-known to be able to reproduce and thrive in sometimes difficult and surprising conditions, with populations growing to enormous sizes in short amounts of time. Rabbits are also considered to be incredibly lucky in the West, with several traditions illustrating how to gain the animal’s good luck for yourself.
One of the most well-known symbols of good luck, a stuffed rabbit’s foot is supposed to bring good fortune. This is a good luck charm that can be found all over the world, from the people of Europe to the traditional cultures of North America.
A hunter being able to catch a rabbit in the first place is also a sign of good luck. Another tradition for good luck found in North America and the UK is to say the word “rabbit” on the first morning of every month.
Rabbits also pop up in other areas of Western culture. It is a rabbit that Alice follows in the story of Alice in Wonderland to escape the normal world and helps to begin her adventure. Rabbits are also related to Easter, with the Easter bunny being thought to be in some way related to the chocolate eggs eaten at this time of year. While the animal appears in many different places, it is always seen as an animal to be welcomed.
So, with it now being the lucky animal’s turn on the Chinese zodiac, maybe the Year of the Rabbit can bring you some good fortune, too!