The “Year of the Rabbit,” (also the “Year of the Water Rabbit”) is a symbol of longevity, peace, and prosperity with 2023 predicted to be a year of hope and calm.
The Year of the Rabbit poster designed by Eugene artist and Eugene Taiko performer Melody Howe is based on popular Asian folklore. A number of Asian countries have tales about a rabbit appearing on the moon, especially during harvest season. The Japanese, folktale, The “Rabbit on the Moon,” is a reminder that hope for a better tomorrow is possible through generosity and selflessness.
This year’s poster also features the Man on the Moon from the story below. The depiction of the “Moon-god” has a resemblance to our long-standing volunteer Stephen Williamson, who has served as the chair of the Asian Celebration Heritage Exhibit for more than 25 years. Stephen is leaving his post as the Heritage Exhibit chair, and with his wife, will be relocating to his home state of Louisiana by the end of the year. We are eternally grateful for all the work and dedication Stephen has shown over the years to enhance understanding of the history of persons of Asian descent in Lane County and beyond!
The Rabbit on the Moon Story
"The Rabbit on the Moon” has many variations and goes something like this:
The Old Man of the Moon came down to Earth one day to test the kindness of three animal friends (a monkey, a rabbit, and a fox). Transformed as a beggar, the Old Man of the Moon wanted to know who was the kindest out of the three. He approached the three friends and asked if they had any food to spare because he was very hungry.
The animals ran off into the forest, where the monkey soon brought back an abundance of fruit for the beggar. The fox soon emerged with a fish for the beggar. But the rabbit did not have anything to give other than grass, for he could not climb trees for fruit, nor swim for fish.
Since the rabbit knew the beggar did not eat grass, he asked his friends, the monkey and fox to fetch wood from the forest. They ran off and when they returned with wood, he asked them to build a fire.
Once the fire was roaring, the rabbit offered the old beggar himself as a sacrifice by throwing himself into the fire and allowing the beggar to eat him. But before the rabbit could jump into the fire, the Old Man of the Moon transformed back into his original form as the Moon-god.
He told the animals they were all kind and generous but said the rabbit was the kindest and the most generous and took the rabbit to live on the moon with him.
So when you look up at the night sky and see the moon, you may be fortunate to see the rabbit on the moon pounding mochi.