What To Know About Year Of The Rabbit 2023

On January 22, the Lunar New Year (sometimes referred to as Chinese New Year or the Spring Festival), one of the biggest holidays in Asia, will take place, ushering in the Year of the Rabbit. According to Almanac, the celebration honors the second moon following December's winter solstice, marking the start of a new lunar year according to the traditional Chinese calendar.


However, China isn't the only country that celebrates this special occasion. Vietnam, South Korea, Japan, and other countries, particularly those located in East Asia, also partake in Lunar New Year festivities. These celebrations vary depending on local culture. However, you can usually expect to see red lantern decorations, auspicious dishes, and dragon dance performances, per Fodor's Travel. Many people also hold family get-togethers, sharing a special meal and exchanging gifts.

Each Lunar New Year is symbolized by an animal from the Chinese zodiac. This year kicks off the Year of the Rabbit, replacing last year's animal, the tiger. Here's what the rabbit means for the year ahead and how you can attract luck in the coming months.


The story of the rabbit

During each Lunar New Year, a new animal is placed in the spotlight according to a traditional sequence. But what does the order of each animal mean, and where did it originate? China Highlights explains the age-old "Heavenly Gate Race" story and how it determined the animals still used today. In the story, the Jade Emperor wanted to rank 12 different animals, who would be appointed his guards. (Though other versions suggest the animals were only called on to become calendar signs, rather than to protect the emperor, according to Travel China Guide.) The animals were to race to the Heavenly Gate, and the first to arrive would lock in the top ranks.


The animals arrived at different times, depending on their habits and personalities. The rat, known to be quick and resourceful, finished in first place, followed by the calm and diligent ox. The tiger and the rabbit, both competitive creatures, trailed behind neck and neck, but the bigger tiger was faster than the rabbit. According to China Travel, some say this is because the overconfident rabbit took a nap during the race, which ultimately taught the hopping animal to adopt a more cautious approach to life after it only came in fourth place. The sequence in this folktale explains why 2023's Year of the Rabbit comes just after 2022's Year of the Tiger.

Common rabbit characteristics

People born during the Year of the Rabbit are said to take on certain traits and tendencies associated with the animal. "The rabbit is gentle, quiet, tame, tender, and kind, yet it moves quickly and is very clever," astrologer Jupiter Lai told The Japan Times. This combination often makes the fluffy mammal a successful go-getter yet without becoming fierce or competitive.


The website Chinese Zodiac also notes that rabbits are creative, organized, and stylish. They're social creatures, though they lack confidence when dealing with disagreements. Rabbits' argument style tends to be passive, which might make them an easy target for other more aggressive animals.

Despite its weaknesses, the rabbit is one of the strongest zodiac signs and is commonly considered the luckiest in Chinese culture. Besides babies born this year, people born in 2011, 1999, 1987, 1975, 1963, and 1951 are generally represented by the rabbit (per China Highlights).

What the Year of the Rabbit symbolizes

If you could use a break, you're in luck. The Year of the Rabbit offers a chance to unwind and embrace a slow life, according to experts. The rabbit's "gentle approach will soothe the ups and downs of last year's Year of the Tiger," astrologer Cathryn Moe explained to The Japan Times. In general, most signs can expect a calm road ahead.


Dottie Li, an expert on Chinese culture, agrees, telling Seventeen, "Because of the rabbit's characteristics, we can expect relaxation, fluidity, quietness, and contemplation." She also shared that the Year of the Rabbit is known to bring "longevity, positivity, auspiciousness, wittiness, cautiousness, cleverness, deftness, and self-protection."

However, this doesn't mean the year will be without challenges. The key is to channel the spirit of the rabbit when in doubt. Moe remarked that the rabbit's "quiet constancy" will come in handy when approaching difficulties this year. Similarly, TheChineseZodiac.org notes that the cautious rabbit serves as a reminder to think over problems before taking action.


What is the Water Rabbit?

The Chinese zodiac assigns elements to each year in addition to animals. This year is said to be influenced by water, making it the Year of the Water Rabbit (per TheChineseZodiac.org). Both the rabbit and water are said to bring peace, and water in particular is thought to encourage introspection.


Water also, metaphorically, washes away rigidity and calls for flexibility instead. Even if the rabbit may look before it leaps, the Year of the Water Rabbit is a time to expand your comfort zone and try new things. And in some cases, this might mean letting go of control. As Cathryn Moe told The Japan Times, "Because 2023 is a yin Water Rabbit year, the days will take on a fluid effect." She adds that this year "will soften schedules around the edges." Translation: don't panic if your date shows up late to dinner, and don't be surprised if you find yourself wanting to cancel plans with friends.

The luckiest signs during 2023's Year of the Rabbit

For those new to the Chinese zodiac, it's easy to assume that people born during rabbit years would be the most likely to have a prosperous 2023. After all, the Year of the Rabbit reflects many of the animal's greatest strengths. However, that assumption is often wrong, as Lauren Nechamkin and Nora Chen of the Museum of Chinese in America shared with Seventeen. "Many believe you face great challenges in your zodiac year and advise avoiding making life-altering decisions," they remarked.


TheChineseZodiac.org offers additional insight, saying that rabbits are likely to have a lucky 2023, yet people born during Years of the Rabbit should remain vigilant to avoid misfortune. The website also predicts that goat, pig, and dog signs will have the luckiest 2023, while the rooster — traditionally considered to be the antithesis of the rabbit — may notice more stumbling blocks than usual.

How to maximize luck this year

Whether the zodiac suggests your sign will have a good Year of the Rabbit or not, there are steps anyone can take to attract good luck, according to tradition. Feng shui is one popular way to welcome fortune and prosperity into your environment, especially in Chinese culture. Lifestyle Asia suggests placing jade (yep, the same stone found in your favorite jade roller) around your home. Then, tap into your inner organized rabbit and declutter your living room and bathroom. Finally, incorporate the year's lucky colors — soft shades like pastel blue and pistachio green — in throw pillows and other home decor.


You can also wear lucky hues to ward off bad juju, as Lauren Nechamkin and Nora Chen told Seventeen: "According to popular folklore, some ways to minimize your bad luck are to wear lucky red clothes (ideally those gifted to you by others), including red underwear and socks, and carrying lucky talismans."

Another way to command good luck while honoring the Lunar New Year is to don fresh clothes you've never worn before. Some people believe wearing a new outfit during the holiday repels bad luck while attracting positivity (per Top China Travel).