Rabbits are incredibly clever, intelligent and agile creatures. When I found out my boss was born in the Year of the Rabbit, I was over the moon. Speaking of moon, in Chinese culture, there is a folk story of a mythical rabbit who lives on the moon. When I was growing up, my elders told me that if you look really closely, you will notice that the markings on the moon resemble a rabbit or a hare. In our folklore, the rabbit is a companion of the Moon Goddess Chang’e. It constantly pounds the elixir of life as well as makes rice cakes.

A medallion on an embroidered imperial robe with the White Hare of the Moon making the elixir of immortality

We need the moon–and the night–for our survival. The radiant moon represents our ability to change with the circumstances. But remember, when we gaze directly at the moonlight, we are only looking at a reflection of the sun. With the moon as an intermediary, we can bask in the light of the sun’s rays without harming our eyes.

There is a story that goes that when the earth was still young, there were ten suns in the sky. It was extremely hot all the time and there was no such thing as night. The extreme heat made it hard to farm crops and endangered entire populations. As you know, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing.

Which is why in China, there is a celebration that takes place called The Mid-Autumn Festival–also known as the Mooncake Festival. This festival has a 3,000 year history and is the second-most important holiday after Chinese New Year. It is when Chinese emperors worshipped the moon for bountiful harvests.

The moon’s waxing and waning is how we humans first understood the concept of ‘month’. So if the rabbit is associated with the moon, then what conclusion did my ancient ancestors draw regarding the animal?

Let’s find out!

The Symbolism

In Chinese cosmology, the rabbit is believed to have a cute, quiet and gentle nature–at least on the surface. When you look at them, they give you the feeling that they are easygoing, happy-go-lucky and docile. But don’t be fooled, okay? Once they start running, you will not be able to catch them that easily. You may joke about how the tortoise won the race; but in the event where there is a real threat, I wouldn’t doubt the rabbit’s ability to sprint away in a zigzag manner like lightning.

As the fourth animal in the Chinese Zodiac, the rabbit represents the sunrise and when the yang masculine energy is strong enough to venture forth into action. Particularly, this refers to the second month of spring when nature is thriving and when farmers begin working hard to till the land. Also, by this time all those hibernating animals would have woken up from their extremely long naps ready for playtime.

Chinese use the symbolism of thunder to express the creative power of new life energy. Thunder is a natural phenomenon which comes down from the sky or the heavens; and serves as a metaphor for the importance of strengthening yourself to become all that you can be. The key takeaway here is that it is best to push forward when the circumstances are right and when opportunities more willingly show themselves.

The Rabbit and The Hare

We Chinese believe that the rabbit is a symbol for wisdom, skill, ambition, humility and secrecy. Rabbits can also be quite risk adverse. If you’ve ever watched a rabbit in action, you will know that they will burrow themselves underground if they see any signs of danger. Since they are a prey animal, they have great awareness regarding when it is time to lay low and when it is time to emerge. This is one of the traits which allows them to complete what they start–contrary to the beloved fable we all grew up with.

Rabbit people tend to gravitate towards nurturing and caring jobs. If you have a boss born in the Year of the Rabbit–the way I do–you will find in this person a compassionate and caring ‘motherly’ type leader. They will always try and look after the team as though they were one big family. This keeps the team cohesive and rallies everyone behind a certain cause which has the effect of allowing people to look past their petty squabbles.

I feel I must add as a caveat, Chinese society is traditionally very collectivist. We don’t view individualism as a positive trait to aspire to. This is why sometimes some people consider some animals as ‘better’ than others. It has very little to do with facts, but the values that a society believes in and considers superior based on its moral compass.

Speaking of ‘morality’, the rabbit species is one that reproduces quite quickly; so it is seen as an animal that is very auspicious in terms of business. These are the people who can build stable and mature businesses that last for a long time. They are naturally forgiving and don’t really remember grudges and will move on quite quickly if they have encountered a setback. They are not brooders or whiners and will sprint away in a zigzag manner if they come across an obstacle.

white rabbit wearing yellow eyeglasses

As rabbit energy is believed to grow rapidly over time, rabbit people need to be wary when they start becoming famous as they can attract a lot of jealousy from people. People may look at them and perceive that they have this magical Midas touch which easily allows them to multiply; but what they don’t realise is that a lot of care and love has gone into making the whole system work.

Ah well, as you know, we humans–we only see what we want to see.

So when rabbit people start becoming famous, they have to stop treating everyone like family and be careful about who they let into their inner circle. They must take time to understand the motivations of others before inviting them into their burrows. They must learn to guard themselves from predators as their numbers multiply and grow in size. Despite their risk adverse nature, they must learn to accept small losses as part of the game and just keep on running… and multiplying

Like I said in the beginning, I was very happy to find out my boss was a rabbit person. This small creature is not to be underestimated. They are witty, smart, caring… and able to not only flourish, but survive and even thrive in a harsh world.

One thought on “The Radiant Rabbit of the Chinese Zodiac

  1. My son is a rabbit and so is my boss. Great things often come in small packages.

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