Hello, this is Jana, and I am back with a story to celebrate the Chinese New Year.
Gong Xi Fa Cai -
Wishing You Prosperity in the New Year!
As you may know, each year is named after an animal, and this year, 2023, is the Year of The Rabbit. According to Chinese astrology, if you are born in the year of the Rabbit, you are likely to be kind and extremely generous and be a healing sort of character.
This Chinese story about the Moon Rabbit is often told in autumn at the time of the Moon festival, but because it’s the start of the Year of the Rabbit we’re bringing it to you a little early! The story is known all over East Asia, in various forms, and is related to both Buddhist and Taoist religions.
It was night when the moon was full. Four animals, the monkey, the Otter, the Jackal and the Rabbit got together.
The Monkey said:
“This is the night to do charity practice. The Jade Emperor has promised a great reward to the kindest animal.”
“Well,” said the Jackal, “We had better find some worthy creature to help. And may the best animal win!”
So the four animals went down the forest path until they found an old man sitting in front of his cave, warming his hands on the fire. He had no relatives to help him, and was extremely hungry.
“Here’s our chance,” said the Monkey. “Let’s see who can help him the most.
And before the others got going, he leapt into the tree to gather nuts to give to the old man. The otter hurried off to the river to catch a fish. And the Jackal sniffed around until he found a lizard and a pot with some rancid curd.
The first three animals presented their gifts to the old man, who was extremely grateful. But the rabbit was in a quandary. He only knew how to nibble grass, and he thought a human, even a beggar, would not be very satisfied with grass.
“I have nothing to give,” he thought sadly, as he watched the old man crunching his teeth on the lizard. “The other animals have put me to shame with their generosity and kindness.”
And then he thought: “I know! Some humans like to cook rabbits and eat them! I have an excellent gift. Myself!”
So having decided what he must do, he jumped into the fire.
Fortunately for the rabbit, the old man wasn’t actually a beggar, but he was the Jade Emperor who had come down to Earth in disguise. He was extremely impressed with the rabbit’s kindness and generosity and made sure the flames did not so much as singe his fur.
The Jade Emperor said to the rabbit:
“You have won the competition. For although the other animals gave worthy gifts, yours was the greatest sacrifice of all - your own life. Therefore I have a great honour and reward for you. You will live in a beautiful palace in the sky. There you will have a very special job. You will make medicines to cure diseases, including the elixir of life that makes all who drink it live ever.
It turned out that the palace was on the moon where he lived peacefully with the moon goddess, Chang-e as her companion.
So if you look up at the moon when it is full, you will see the shape of a rabbit, his long ears, and his long legs. He is standing up, working with a pestle and mortar to ground the ingredients of medicines into powder.
And in autumn, at the time of the moon festival, the rabbit returns to earth and brings gifts including lanterns and mooncakes, because the rabbit is still the kindest and most generous of animals.
And that is the Chinese story of the Moon Rabbit to celebrate the Year of the Rabbit.
And you might be interested to know that the moon rabbit is called Yutu in Chinese. China has sent an automatic vehicle to the moon named after the Moon Rabbit. It is also called Yutu. It can rove over the moon, up and down craters, and send information back to earth about what it finds.
From me Jana, at Storynory.com Wishing You Prosperity
‘Gong Xi Fa Cai’