Many Asian and Eurasian cultures revere the rabbit (or hare) as a
sacred messenger of the Divine; to the Chinese, he is a creature
in the moon, pounding rice (the staff of life) in a mortar.
To the followers of Buddhism the rabbit was placed in the moon as
a result of his self-sacrifice in offering himself as food. In a
second version, the rabbit cooks himself in Indra's fire since he
had no food to offer her and the deity placed him in the moon as
To the Egyptians, the hare (as opposed to the rabbit)
was known as un, which meant "to open," or "the opener." This was
because the hare, unlike his cotton-tailed cousin, is born with
his eyes open. "Un" also meant "period" as it was a symbol for
both lunar and human cycles.
These traditions undoubtedly spread to the indigenous tribes of
Western Europe much as the Indo-European language base developed
through encounters between these two groups. This also blended
well with Celtic tradition, which viewed the hare as a symbol of
fertility and new life, and the Germanic tradition that the hare
brought new life each spring.
Even in North America, the Rabbit/Hare is revered. To the Native
American peoples, he was the Trickster/Transformer who either
plays the Fool or, in other instances, has brought about a
benefit for humankind (i.e., the legend of Rabbit bringing fire
to the people).
The ancient Mayan culture gives Rabbit credit for inventing
Just as the ancient sacred places and names were blended into the
holiday celebration we know as Easter, so too was the Rabbit/Hare
molded from an ancient bringer of new life and renewal to the
Easter Bunny, a symbol of a holiday
celebrating a resurrection.
In truth, the Rabbit stays the same: a messenger of a season when
all things are possible and all things can again be new.
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