Animals and humans have peacefully existed together on Earth since the beginning of time. Animals helped early humans in several ways, and humans, being sensitive creatures, developed several superstitions and beliefs about some of the animals. One such animal is a rabbit, which has special meanings in different religions and cultures around the globe. So today, we will learn what does a rabbit symbolize and the various beliefs associated with it. Let’s dive in!
1. What does a Rabbit Symbolize?
There are several meanings and beliefs related to rabbits, including fertility, new moon, sensitivity, gentleness, good luck, haste, wealth, and new beginnings. Rabbits are also the symbol of vigilance, lechery, agility, cleverness, wit, and self-protection. In modern society, the animal has been a symbol of rebirth. We will discuss these beliefs about what does a rabbit symbolize, in-depth below. (See What is the difference between a Rabbit and a Hare?)
2. How were Rabbits seen by the Celtic?
For Celts, rabbits were heavenly beings believed to be connected with the holy spirits. They also considered them the symbol of fertility and forbade eating their meat. They associated the rabbit holes with the new moon, i.e., when they would see rabbits making a hole, they considered it a sign to start something new. (See 18 Fun Facts About Space)
3. What does a Rabbit Symbolize in Native American tribes?
Native American tribes have a close connection with animals. However, in some tribes, rabbits were considered tricksters who could easily trick their enemies. The Southwestern tribes of Native Americans considered rabbits a symbol of fertility, prosperity, and rainfall.
- According to the Cherokee tribe, rabbits were like coyotes and crows who learn lessons from the consequences of their mischief, tricks, and pranks.
- For the Ojibwe and Algonquin tribes, rabbits were considered close to their cultural hero Nanabozho – the son of the Sun, a deity who named all the plants and animals of the planet. They believed their deity Nanabozho was a shapeshifter and often took the form of a rabbit and taught people the art of drawing and fishing. Rabbits symbolized spiritual and practical teachings for them. (See Could Bigfoot Be Real?)
4. How did the Aztecs Treat Rabbits?
For the Aztecs, rabbits were the symbol of partying, fertility, and drinking. They had folklores about Centzon Totochtin, a group of 400 divine rabbit Gods believed to have lived on the Moon. The mythological tale of the Aztec God Quetzalcoatl goes like this:
- He roamed the Earth as a human to explore it. When he got tired, he rested on a log and thought he was going to die of starvation when suddenly a rabbit came around and offered him food.
- But, he refused by saying that he only eats meat. Hearing this, the rabbit offered itself as the meat for him to eat.
- The deity was moved by the generosity of the rabbit who was ready to give up her life to feed a man. So, the mighty transformed into his deity form picked up the rabbit, and pressed her against the Moon to create her shape on its surface.
- He blessed the rabbit by saying that whenever a human sees the Moon, they will get reminded about the rabbit’s generosity and honor. (See What makes the moon look orange?)
5. What does a Rabbit Symbolize in Asia?
- Asians consider rabbits as a symbol of fertility, well-being, and happiness. The Japanese have an ancient story about a rabbit and a man living on the Moon, similar to the story of the Aztec God. They also believed that there were rabbits on the Moon who made special rice cakes called mochi. Moon rabbits or Jade rabbits are the names given to these rabbits by the Japanese.
- In Chinese culture, there are years named after the animals in their zodiac signs. One such year is the Year of Rabbit, which is the fourth year in their 12-year cycle of animals. According to them, people born in the Year of Rabbit are honorable, gentle, elegant, and approachable. It is believed that the moon goddess Chang had a rabbit as a companion when she flew to the Moon after she drank the elixir of immortality. Hence, rabbit is considered to be a lucky charm. (See How Many Number of Days in a Month?)
6. Why are Rabbits the Symbol of Fertility?
Almost in all the cultural and religious beliefs, rabbits are a symbol of fertility. The reason behind this belief is their reproductive ability as they can have more than four litter in one year. In Norse mythology, Vikings had associated rabbits with their fertility Goddess Freya and the Moon. (See The History of Medieval Jesters)
7. Do White Rabbits bring Good or Bad Luck?
British miners in the past believed that white rabbits bring bad luck. They followed a superstition that if they entered the mines for work and happen to see a white rabbit outside, it was not a good sign as some disaster would take place.
However, if we consider the meaning conveyed from a classical children’s story Alice in Wonderland, it is the complete opposite of the one mentioned above. In the story, a new adventure starts when Alice follows the white rabbit through a tree hole. Hence, seeing a white rabbit symbolizes the beginning of a new life or a new adventure that can change our life. It also symbolizes experiences or adventures that can prove to be a mind-changing event, almost like a spiritual awakening. (See Why Are Rabbits’ Feet Lucky?)
8. What Does a Rabbit Dream Symbolize?
Dreams are often related to our conscious mind, i.e., if we see or hear about something, we are most likely to dream of it.
- There is nothing terrible in seeing a rabbit in the dream unless it is a dead rabbit since it symbolizes illness and boring life.
- A white rabbit, on the other hand, symbolizes luck, loyalty, love, and a good relationship. It also can be a sign that someone has a desire to be a parent. Another belief is that if a woman dreams of a white rabbit, it is like a guide showing her the right path. (See Why Are Rabbits’ Feet Lucky?)
- Grey rabbit means someone is trying to trick us.
- A pink rabbit symbolizes upcoming financial problems.
- Black rabbits symbolize lies, insecurities, or relationship disappointments.
9. Why are Rabbits Considered Unlucky?
African tribes believe that rabbits are unlucky animals as they bring bad luck. It is associated with the tale of a rabbit being a divine messenger of the Moon. He was sent with the gift of immortality to humans; instead, he brought death as a prank. Hence, these tribes along with several other people see rabbits as evil and unlucky beings.