It’s the Eye of the … Rabbit?
Words By Ambar Ramirez
Sorry to all those who carry the Chinese zodiac sign of the Tiger, but your time is up. But if you were born in 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999 or 2011, you’re in luck: 2023 is the Year of the Rabbit, the Water Rabbit to be more exact. And it looks like we are in for a lucky new year. But before we get into what exactly is in store for us in terms of the Chinese zodiac, also known as “Shengxiao,” let’s do a deep dive into how Shengxiao came to be in the first place and how it is different compared to the zodiac we use.
It is unclear exactly what day Shengxiao was created, but it was officially identified 2,000 years ago during the Han Dynasty rule. Unlike the zodiac we regularly use in the United States, the Chinese zodiac is based on years rather than months and is based on the lunar calendar. And as the zodiac uses the stars and constellations to map out horoscopes, Shengxiao uses a 12-year cycle in which an animal signifies each year.
But why create and use the Chinese zodiac when we have our own (seemingly) accurate astrological zodiac? Well, of course, that has to do with different cultures. But (just for fun) it can also be tied to an old legend. It is said Yu Di, the Great Jade Emperor, “ruler of the heavens,” wanted a way to measure time. Instead of devising a regular calendar as a mortal would, Yu Di organized a race in which he challenged all the animals to cross the mighty river. The first 12 to make it across would earn a spot on the calendar and the zodiac. Bonus, the animals to make it across the mighty river would also be protectors of the heavenly realms.
So it was decided that the Rat, the Ox, the Tiger, the Rabbit, the Dragon, the Snake, the Horse, the Sheep, the Monkey, the Rooster, the Dog and the Pig, would make up the 12 Chinese zodiac animals. Each of the 12 animals is combined with the natural elements, fire, earth, metal, water and wood with a female (yin) and male (yang) form. And each has its own characteristics. The Rabbit is the fourth animal in the 12-year cycle and considered to be the luckiest.
Rabbits are characterized as honest, stylish, virtuous, private, calm and thoughtful. But before you throw your paws in the air in celebration of the seemingly positive year to come, Rabbits are also known for being withdrawn, oversensitive and unpredictable. While this may be an ambitious and lucky year if you’re a Rabbit, don’t be surprised when big changes come your way.