2023 is the Year of the Rabbit. In China, it’s believed that the zodiac year in which one is born can influence aspects of their life, such as one’s character, love life, and career. According to the Chinese zodiac, the year of each sign is on a 12-year cycle, so those born in the last century who were born under the sign of the Rabbit (兔子 tùzǐ) were born in 1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011, and 2023.
Cultural Significance of the Chinese Zodiac
The Chinese zodiac, known as Sheng Xiao or Shu Xiang, plays an essential role in shaping the traditions, holidays, and foods enjoyed in Asian communities all over the world. According to the Chinese zodiac, a person’s horoscope, personality, and love compatibility are closely associated with the Chinese zodiac sign determined by their birth year.
The zodiac features 12 animal signs: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig. Each animal sign has unique characteristics that symbolize a deep connection with China’s ancient cultural heritage.
The Heavenly Gate Race Story
While the origin of the 12-year Chinese zodiac calendar is explained by many legends, some believe it grew out of the story of the Great Race between the various animals organized by the Jade Emperor – one of the most important gods in traditional Chinese religion.
The legend says all animals of the world were invited to participate in the race. The first twelve animals to finish would have a year in the zodiac calendar named after them, with the order of arrival determining the ranking of the animals.
Cultural Significance of Rabbits
The rabbit plays an important part in various ancient Chinese myths and legends, such as the legend of the Jade Rabbit.
The Jade Rabbit lives on the moon with the Moon Goddess, Chang-e, keeping her company while quietly creating the elixir of life under a neighboring cassia tree. He is a noble and benevolent creature to whom offerings are often made during the very moon-focused Mid-Autumn Festival (link to mid-autumn blog). Due to the strong association between rabbits and the moon, it is common to see images of rabbits during the festival.
Additionally, in Chinese culture, the rabbit is the luckiest of all 12 animals, symbolizing mercy, elegance, and beauty.
The Year of the Rabbit
It is said that those born under the sign of the Rabbit are very social and peaceful with a strong aversion to conflict as they are usually cautious and delicate. They are responsible, pay close attention to detail, and are modest about their accomplishments.
It is believed that people born in the Year of the Rabbit are suitable for jobs related to literature, art, and music due to their perceptual outlook on life. Due to their aversion to conflict, it is said that they are compatible with people born in the year of the Dog, Sheep, or Pig, which all have easy-going and amiable spirits.
Chinese zodiac signs are just one of the many fascinating aspects of Chinese culture that continue to live on in modern China.