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All you need to know about the Year of the Rabbit

By Published January 12, 2023

The Lunar New Year, or Spring Festival, marks the transition of the Chinese zodiac sign from one animal to the next. 2023 sees in the Year of the Rabbit, which begins on January 22. In Chinese culture, the Rabbit is a symbol of longevity, peace and prosperity. 2023 is predicted to be a year of hope.

People born in the Year of the Rabbit are believed to be vigilant, witty, quick-minded and ingenious.

Are you a rabbit?

Click on your birth date for your Chinese zodiac animal

Birth Years: 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008, 2020

Rats are self-starters who have extraordinarily strong communication skills. They love being involved in their community and are both detail-oriented and artistic. They are also sensitive and intuitive, risk-averse, and tend to be quite organised.

In addition, Rats are resourceful, skilled, versatile, friendly, intelligent and charming. They are sensitive to the emotions of others but also stubborn. Financially, they like to save and can be stingy.

Birth Years: 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009, 2021

Hard workers at heart, intelligent and trustworthy, Oxes have no problem stepping up and taking responsibility, but they never seek flattery or to be the centre of attention. This often hides their talent, but they will get recognition eventually. They're honest and sincere, generally quiet, and not the most expressive emotionally.

Birth Years: 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010, 2022

Tigers are go-getters who are loyal and fans of luxury. They pride themselves on being free-thinking and come off as downright fearless. Fighters for justice and with high self-esteem, Tigers tend to make formidable leaders. They love a good challenge and adventure in life. They rarely feel tired. Sometimes, however, they make cheeky decisions and are difficult to control.

Birth Years: 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011, 2023

Rabbits are sincere in everything they do, only asking that others treat them the same way. To those who don't know them personally, the Rabbit's kindness can make them appear soft and weak. In truth, the calm personality of the Rabbit hides its confidence and strength.

Birth Years: 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012, 2024

Dragons are natural leaders, self-sufficient, outgoing, fierce and combative. They are also known for their loyalty to family and friends, and they adore adventure and romance. Although they may seem lazy at times, Dragons are quickly motivated by anything that interests them.

Birth Years: 1929, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013

Snakes have the best intuition and deep and complex minds, and if they love, they love with all their hearts. They are also humorous and sophisticated, but do not like to talk or think about small, everyday problems.

Birth Years: 1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014

Horses are free spirits who need space to be themselves. They are full of energy, sometimes too much. Studious and athletic, they are strong believers in chasing dreams. Instead of wealth and fame, happiness is what motivates them.

Birth Years: 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015

Goats make new friends effortlessly and tend to be incredibly perceptive and nurturing. They're peacemakers who prefer not to rock the boat, being patient, polite and persuasive. Their most notable feature is that they persevere in the face of any difficulty. They are strong and resilient, although their gentleness can be deceptive.

Birth Years: 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016

Monkeys have no trouble starting a conversation with just about anyone. They crack people up with their light, engaging sense of humour, and love being in the spotlight.

Their most defining trait is their intelligence. As children, they win prizes and praise from teachers. As adults, they gain professional recognition and make great leaders. Due to this, they can be arrogant. They're often disrespectful and self-centred when making decisions. They are awfully competitive, which is both positive and negative.

Birth Years: 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017

Roosters are complex people who seem strong, but deep down, they need validation from loved ones. They are serious in their jobs and are direct and decisive in their actions. They are perfectionists and will directly criticise what they consider inappropriate.

Birth Years: 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018

Dogs are family- and service-oriented, direct, trustworthy, and unselfish. Despite how they act, they are worried and anxious inside. However, they won't let this stop them. Once they decide on something, no one can stop them.

Possessing a great sense of loyalty and sincerity, Dogs will do everything possible for the person they care about the most.

Birth Years: 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019

Although they are not spendthrifts, Pigs allow themselves to enjoy life. They love entertainment and indulgences. They are somewhat materialistic, but this motivates them to work hard. They are energetic and always enthusiastic, even for boring jobs. Given the opportunity, they will take positions of power and status.

The Five Elements Theory

The Five Elements Theory is a Chinese philosophy used to outline the relationships of everything in the universe between which interactions can occur. The five elements - wood, fire, earth, metal and water - are believed to be the fundamental elements of all these things.

The cycle of the five elements runs in a specific order and can be remembered by noting the different processes of creation and destruction that precede or succeed them.

The creating (generative) interactions are:

The Five Elements Theory asserts that the world changes according to the five elements generating or overcoming relationships. Generating and overcoming are the complementary processes - the yin and yang - of The Five Elements Theory.

Generating processes promote development, while overcoming processes control development. By promoting and restraining, systems are harmonised and balance is maintained.

Every year is associated with an element. To figure out which element is associated with your birth year, take the last number of your birth year. For example, 2023 is the water element, so those born in that year are Water Rabbits.

Last number of birth year 0 or 1 2 or 3 4 or 5 6 or 7 8 or 9
Element associated Metal Water Wood Fire Earth
Last number of birth year Element associated
0 or 1 Metal
2 or 3 Water
4 or 5 Wood
6 or 7 Fire
8 or 9 Earth

Using the Five Elements Theory to boost good luck

Rats - add water in the north
The water element favours people born in the Year of the Rat financially. They should place a water tank containing goldfish in the north part of their office, and fortune will find its way to them.

Oxes - add fire
Oxes can only make a great fortune with the help of a strong fire element. They should place some ceramic pieces (ceramics are made using heat from fire) in their offices or bedrooms to bring them good luck.

Tigers - add earth
The earth element favours Tigers, who should add something prominent representing the earth, for example a potted plant, to their life. It's better if it is a plant that abundantly bears fruit, which generates profit from all sides.

Rabbits - add earth in the northeast
Rabbits need the earth element in their life - but out of sight. Rabbits should hide a jade item northeast of their bedrooms to bring good luck. It is believed that jade, buried in the earth for thousands of years, is the essence of heaven and earth.

Dragons - add water in the northwest
Dragons should put a basin of clear water with a handful of soil in the northwest part of their bedrooms, and then place several lotus flowers in the basin, to bring them good luck.

Snakes - add metal in the west
West is the ideal direction for Snakes, while it is believed that wearing gold and silver ornaments (which are influenced by the metal element) will bring food and clothes, even if they do not make a huge fortune.

Horses - add metal in the northwest
Horses should place a bronze toad in the northwest part of their bedrooms.

Goats - add wood in the north
Goats should place a mahogany box on the north side of their offices, with an object related to their professions inside (for example, a chef can put a ladle in the box).

Monkeys - add wood in the west
Monkeys should put a plant in the western part of their houses. It is better if the plant is taller than the person.

Roosters - add wood
Roosters should put some grass seeds in a dark red enamelled container. The seeds in the non-metal container offer limitless possibilities, which will bring Roosters great fortune.

Dogs - add wood
Those born in the Year of the Dog should avoid the water and earth elements if they want fortune and luck. They should place some peach tree branches in their offices; however, they should not plant them in water or soil.

Pigs - add fire
Pigs need the fire element to bring them good fortune this year and should put a set of ceramic pieces in their living rooms.

Lunar New Year calendar 2023

Lunar New Year celebrations traditionally last for 16 days, from Lunar New Year's Eve to the Lantern Festival. In mainland China, the first seven days - from January 21 to 27 in 2023 - are public holidays.

January 15
The most important celebration includes the family reunion dinner, and staying up until midnight
New Year’s Eve
A day for visiting or greeting family and relatives, and giving presents
New Year’s Day
Married women visit their parents with their husbands and children
In-Law’s Day
An ominous day, so it’s common to stay at home, rest with family and play games
Day of the Rat
An auspicious day, for prayer and giving offerings, or going to temples or fortune-tellers
Day of the Sheep
Commonly accepted as the day when taboos (from previous days) can be broken
Break Five
Believed to be the best day to get rid of old, unwanted things. Also an acceptable day to resume work
Day of the Horse
Believed to be the day people were created. It is encouraged to spend it out in nature
Day of Mankind
Good weather on this day will symbolise good crops for the year. Many families will have a second “mini” reunion dinner
Day of the Grain
The Jade Emperor’s birthday, on which people give offerings, light incense and set off firecrackers
Providence Health
The birthday of the “god stone”, similar to the previous day’s rituals
Stone Festival
Fathers are expected to “entertain” or treat their sons-in-law on this day
Son-in-Law Day
February 1
Preparations for the Lantern Festival: cooking and making lanterns
Lantern Day Preparations
2 ~ 4
Marks the end of the festival. Lanterns are lit and hung or flown, dragon dances take place in the streets and children answer lantern riddles
Lantern Festival

Celebrities born in the Year of the Rabbit

Famous fictional rabbits

Facts about Lunar New Year

A quarter of the global population celebrates it
More than 2 billion of the world’s 8 billion population will celebrate Lunar New Year in 2023. Countries that have public holidays during Lunar New Year include China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, South Korea, Malaysia, North Korea, Singapore and Brunei.

8 billion red envelopes
It wouldn’t be Lunar New Year without the tradition of giving red envelopes to children and single, young relatives. Every year, about 8 billion red envelopes are given within Chinese families worldwide. Each envelope contains an even denomination of cash or chocolate coins, which both symbolise good fortune and wealth for the new year.

Kung Hei Fat Choi
It is the most common greeting in Hong Kong during Lunar New Year. Kung Hei means congratulations, while Fat Choi means making a fortune. It is said that the phrase originated in the Guangdong region during the Self-Strengthening Movement (1861–1895), Chinese workers wished their foreign bosses prosperity during the New Year and thus achieve a greater share of the profits in the next term.

Lunar New Year taboos

Chinese people traditionally believe that a good (or bad) start to a year will affect the whole year and there are many things you should not do. Some of these taboos will only last for the first few days of the festival (such as getting your hair cut or washing your clothes or hair), while others run until the Lantern Festival on the 15th day of the first lunar month. They include:

Associate Creative Director Marcelo Duhalde
Edited by Tom Eves and Kevin Kwong
Additional web development by Jingtian Yan and Dennis Wong

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