Hippity, hoppity, Easter’s on its way,” go the words to the children’s song about Peter Cottontail. This year, Easter isn’t the only holiday where rabbits take center stage.
Yesterday, Feb. 3, kicked off the year 4710, the Year of the Rabbit, in the lunar Chinese calendar, which always begins on the second new moon following the winter solstice. That makes it a January or February occasion in the secular calendar.
Korea and Vietnam use the same celestial event to mark their new years too, and the term “Chinese New Year” is gradually giving way in the West to the more inclusive moniker “Lunar New Year” these days.
The Chinese zodiac follows a 12-year cycle, with each year bearing the name and character of an animal. Tradition holds that people share the personality of the animal marking the year they were born.
According to Chinese astrology, people born during rabbit years share the cute-as-a-bunny traits of their real-life animal counterparts. Luck comes their way as a result of that attractiveness. A yen for order and a slight bit of rabbit-like timidity mark their lives.
The cast of famous rabbits, past and present, includes (in alphabetical order): Tallulah Bankhead, Ethel Barrymore, David Beckham, Pope Benedict XVI, Ingrid Bergman, Fanny Brice, Gordon Brown, Robert Burns, Francis Ford Coppola, Bing Crosby, Marie Curie, Johnny Depp, Albert Einstein, Billie Holliday, Bob Hope, Enrique Iglesias, Washington Irving, Henry James, Angelina Jolie, John Paul Jones, John Keats, Fran Lebowitz, Robert E. Lee, Gina Lollobrigida, Herman Melville, George Orwell, Will Rogers, Erwin Rommel, Neil Simon, Frank Sinatra, Adam Smith, Joseph Stalin, Leon Trotsky, Tiger Woods, Fidel Castro, Queen Victoria, Andy Warhol, Orson Welles, Walt Whitman, Frank Lloyd Wright, Michael Keaton and Emiliano Zapata.
Rabbit years always follow the fast-paced whirlwind of the Year of the Tiger, traditionally bringing a sigh of relief from most of the zodiac creatures. All seem happy to settle down to the hop of the rabbit and the order it brings. If you’re a tiger, dragon or horse with a natural zest for speed, take extra special care to slow down a bit this year (see 2011 Forecast.)
New year celebrations last for two weeks in Asia itself. Costa Rica’s Asian community generally marks the first day of the year only. San José’s Tin Jo restaurant (Calle 11, Avenida 6/8, 2221-7605, www.tinjo.com) will hold its new year celebration on Saturday, Feb. 5, with special menus and activities including lion dancers, horoscope readings and origami demonstrations. Reservations are recommended.
Rabbit (1915, 1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011): You rock. You rule. This is your year. Your natural creativity can pay off handsomely during the next 12 months.
Dragon (1916, 1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000): Temper your fire. This is a slower-paced rabbit year, so exercise some restraint on your impulses.
Snake (1917, 1929, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001): Your tendency to strike quickly worked well during the tiger year. Exercise more caution this year and slither away at the first sign of trouble.
Horse (1918, 1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002): Last year was a wild ride for you. The rabbit hops, and you should slow from a gallop to a trot.
Ram (1919, 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003): You share the rabbit’s bunny-like adorableness, and this could be a year you are more popular than ever.
Monkey (1920, 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004): Typical mischievous monkeyshines don’t mix well with rabbit years’ order. Lay low, exercise caution, and avoid confrontation.
Rooster (1921, 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005): The natural harmony of rabbit years goes against too much strutting and crowing. Diplomacy is your best friend.
Dog (1922, 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006): You have that proverbial loyalty of “man’s best friend.” Attention to friendships serves you well during the rabbit year.
Pig (1923, 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007): As one of nature’s most common-sense animals, you find rabbit years to be fortuitous ones. Diligence and prudence pay off in the end.
Rat (1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008): You’re one of nature’s shrewdest animals, and you can parlay the rabbit year’s natural order into success.
Ox (1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009): You’re the zodiac’s most plodding, methodical animal, but mimic the rabbit’s flexibility and the year should serve you well.
Tiger (1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010): Your inborn instinct to pounce last year may have caused you trouble. Take a cue this year from the rabbit’s natural agility.
Adapted from www.chinese.astrology.com