Rabbits are one of the most popular pets. However, rabbits have been a part of lives, cultures, and religious practices for much longer than they have been considered pets. Historically speaking, rabbits hold a great deal of symbolic meaning. This can guide dreams, art, and even traditional dress.
Rabbits almost always symbolize prosperity, abundance, good luck, and fertility. Unlike many other animals, which have different meanings in different cultures, rabbit symbolism is consistent. In most European cultures, rabbits are springtime animals, symbolic of fruitfulness and renewal. The connection between rabbits and spring is also found in Japanese culture. In the U.S., rabbits are symbolic of cleverness, devotion to self-improvement, and good luck.
There are some cultures that see rabbits differently, however. While rabbits are the luckiest of the Zodiac animals in China, they are primarily seen as trickster animals by Native American cultures. Furthermore, while many Central American peoples see rabbits as symbols of fertility, Aztec mythology associates rabbits with drunkenness and promiscuity.
What Do Rabbits Symbolize In Dreams?
Symbols have great importance in dreams, as many spiritualists and psychologists agree. To see a rabbit in your dreams can signify many things. Most commonly, a rabbit symbolizes:
- Emotional abundance or warmth
- Sexual activity
This may seem to be a wide range of symbols, but these meanings cover a variety of situations. How the rabbit presents itself in your dream can also have a huge impact on the supposed meaning.
For example, if you were to dream of a rabbit running away from you, it could symbolize someone you love slipping away. Likewise, if the rabbit in your dream bites or scratches you, it could mean that you are dealing with difficulties in your romantic relationship. This changeable symbology has a lot to do with the context of the dream as a whole.
White Rabbit Symbolism
White rabbits are symbolic of love, tenderness, and inner power. Although rabbits are considered lucky animals, white rabbits in particular are symbolic of good luck and impending opportunity.
In fact, white rabbits are considered so lucky in European cultures that it’s transformed into a kind of blessing. Saying ‘white rabbit,’ or ‘rabbit, rabbit’ on the first day of the month is supposed to guarantee good luck.
To dream about a white rabbit symbolizes an upturn in your life and fortunes. However, that’s supposedly true only if you are brave and take a leap (or hop) of faith. Rabbits may be hunted, after all, but they are clever, quick, and brave. If they were not, they simply wouldn’t survive.
Black Rabbit Symbolism
Just as black rabbits are the inversion of white rabbits, they also have opposing symbolism. Dreaming about black rabbits can be symbolic of:
- Feelings of helplessness
What if your dream doesn’t center around a black rabbit, but merely features one? In this case, a black rabbit can signify:
- Family troubles
- The need for caution
Black, as a color, is also symbolic of silence and stillness. This could mean that black rabbits symbolize the peace that comes with being still and silent, or the need to break silence (depending on the context).
As with all dreams, most people conclude that your impression of the symbols influences the symbols themselves. Two people can dream about black rabbits and have them symbolize two different things. This all depends on other happenings within the dream, and your cultural (or personal) impression of them.
Feeding a Rabbit Symbolism
What if you dream about feeding a rabbit? This symbology has two primary meanings, which can seem contradictory. Depending on how the dream makes you feel, it could be symbolic of:
- Feeling that someone is taking something from you.
Meanwhile, if the rabbit bites or scratches you as you feed it, this is symbolically representative of neglected or deteriorating relationships.
Dead Rabbit Symbolism
Rabbits generally symbolize family, good luck, and opportunity. As such, it’s no surprise that a dead rabbit has much less positive connotations.
Dreaming about a dead rabbit symbolizes loss. This can be the loss of romance and friendship, or the death of a loved one. A dead rabbit is not good news, symbolically speaking, no matter how or when it appears.
In these cases, you may not dream solely about a dead rabbit. There may be other events, animals, or objects in the dream with the dead rabbit. To interpret the meaning, it’s important to try and evaluate the other elements. The additional symbols may help you determine the overall message, as dreams rarely limit themselves to just one symbol.
Likewise, your religious or cultural background will have a massive influence on the symbology of rabbits in your dreams. Let’s look at how specific faiths and backgrounds can affect what rabbits symbolize.
What Do Rabbits Symbolize in Chinese Culture?
In Chinese culture, the rabbit is the 4th animal in the zodiac. It’s known to be the luckiest of all 12 animals. The rabbit is a symbol of beauty, elegance, intelligence, and mercy. More than this, ancient Chinese mythology saw rabbits as symbols of the moon, because they believed there was a rabbit living on the moon.
The Jade Rabbit or Moon Rabbit is a companion to the Moon Goddess. It never grows old and makes medicine by grinding herbs with a mortar and pestle. This also makes the rabbit a symbol of good health and longevity in Chinese culture. This could be why many rabbit parts are used in Chinese medicine, too.
So, as you can see, rabbits are primarily good omens in Chinese culture. However, this is not true of all Asian cultures.
What Do Rabbits Symbolize in Japanese Culture?
Symbolically, rabbits share many meanings in Japanese and Chinese culture. Nonetheless, there are some differences to consider.
In Japanese culture, rabbits do symbolize luck, but they also are considered symbols of ambition, advancement, and self-devotion. Thanks to their short forelegs, they climb hills far more easily than they descend. As such, rabbits are seen as symbols of progress, both personal and joint.
The rabbit also symbolizes the moon in Japanese culture. There is a legend that rabbits pound mocha on the moon, and so can often be seen in motifs which include the moon. This practice of making sweet treats gives rabbits a bonus symbology. They’re commonly associated with the New Year and the rebirth of the world as it moves into spring.
These positive links with rabbits may be why rabbits are often featured on kimonos, fans, silk screens, and other decorations in Japan. By channeling the energy of the rabbit, people can invite beauty, grace, and good fortune into their lives.
There is one big difference between the symbolism of rabbits in Chinese and Japanese culture. While rabbits are overwhelmingly seen as positive in Chinese culture, they are considered tricksters in Japanese culture. This duality is more in line with the symbolism of rabbits in many European cultures.
What Do Rabbits Symbolize In Native American Culture?
According to Animals (Basel), there were over 3 million pet rabbits in the U.S. However, long before they were our precious friends, diverse Native American cultures were creating many different legends and stories about rabbits. Usually, they featured as tricksters, guides, or even Gods.
In south-eastern Native culture, rabbits are tricksters, symbolic of cleverness, wit, and guile. This can often be seen in northeastern tribes. In contrast, for many southwestern tribes and Central American Native cultures, rabbits are symbols of fertility and abundance. Rabbits are found in countless Native American parables.
What Do Rabbit Totems Symbolize?
Rabbits have a very specific place and meaning in Native American culture. They are one of the 9 totem animals.
The story behind the rabbit totem seems sad. Rabbit is fearful of his friend Eye Walker and abandons her. As a result, the rabbit is cursed to forever call out its fears, making them come to it.
Despite this, the rabbit totem is symbolic of cleverness, sensitivity, and shamanic power. This is because of bunnies’ strong perceptive and intuitive powers. Like all totem animals, the rabbit is symbolically positive and represents creative problem solving, courage, and quick-wittedness.
The rabbit, here, is symbolic of the struggle within us, and represents the need to control our fear in order to realize our potential.
What Do Rabbits Symbolize in Central American Culture?
Rabbits have many symbolic meanings to the indigenous people of Central America. Rabbits symbolize fertility, good luck, and intelligence. However, the Aztecs had a different view of them. In Aztec culture, rabbits were associated with the alcoholic drink ‘pulque.’ As a result, bunnies came to be symbolic of drunkenness and revelry.
Also recognized as incredibly fertile and abundant animals, rabbits were symbolic of promiscuity. This slightly negative look stands out from most other views of rabbits, which tend to be symbolically positive. However, despite providing a stark contrast, this is consistent with the most common views of rabbits. Promiscuity and tenderness, fertility and fecundity – these things are not synonymous with each other, but they are connected.
The balance between fecundity and tenderness, promiscuity and elegance, ferocity and timorousness is hard to find in any other animal. This is what makes the rabbit so powerful as a symbol.
Rabbit Symbolism in Christianity
Despite being synonymous with Easter, the symbolism of the rabbit within Christianity is highly contested.
Most western European cultures – and, by extension, the American communities which grew from their migration – see rabbits as lucky creatures. They are symbolic of fertility, or even elegance and kindness. However, there are many Christians who feel that they should not be connected with Christianity because of their significance to some pagan religions.
In many pagan traditions, rabbits act as spiritual messengers, moving between the human realm and underworld. They are also harbingers of spring, companions to goddesses, and potent symbols of fertility and familial love. By contrast, rabbits have very limited interactions with Christian mythology and symbology.
What Do Rabbits Signify in The Bible?
Rabbits are rarely mentioned in the bible, but when they are, it is not overly positive.
According to the bible, humans should not eat rabbits. They are considered unclean animals because “he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof.” So, in a biblical sense, rabbits do not really symbolize anything.
Despite this, the rabbit is indelibly connected to the Christian holiday of Easter. After all, children are taught about the Easter bunny at a young age.
Why Do Rabbits Symbolize Easter?
The bible, of course, makes no mention of the Easter bunny. This leads many people to wonder why rabbits are so symbolically connected with Easter as a holiday.
There is no way to be certain of how this tradition began. However, it is startlingly similar to a creature of German mythology. The ‘Osterhase’ or ‘Oschter Haws’ is an egg-laying hare which came in springtime. German children would make nests in which this creature could lay its eggs safely.
According to World Archaeology, the earliest reference to an Easter Hare appeared in 1682. It was found in a work by Georg Franck von Franckenau, who discussed ‘Easter Egg hunts’ in and around Heidelberg, as well as other Protestant dominated areas. Jacob Grimm later connected this to pre-Christian religious practices, but this has been widely contended.
Whatever the case, the Easter bunny seems to be most likely to have started its life in Germany.
In the 1700s a wave of German immigration to the U.S. led to this tradition crossing the Atlantic. As the custom spread across America, the Osterhase gradually became a part of Easter celebrations. The fabled creature began to leave behind gifts of chocolate and candy, while decorated baskets replaced nests.
Another possible reason why rabbits have come to be a symbol of Easter is their connection with Lent. This is especially in western European Christian practices. A mistranslation by St. Gregory of Tours in 590 AD led to a later misconception:
Specifically, that Pope Gregory the Great had granted a papal edict allowing laurices (newborn rabbits) to be eaten during lent. It was claimed that this was because they were classed as ‘fish,’ due to the watery environment of the womb.
No such edict has ever been found. However, this miscommunication led to many monasteries setting up and tending to rabbit warrens. This allowed the ‘delicacy’ to be enjoyed during Lent.
Despite this, rabbits were most commonly associated with Christmas in the medieval period. As such, it’s most likely that the symbol of the rabbit as the ‘Easter Bunny’ did indeed come from Germany.
Is Seeing A Rabbit Good Luck?
Many cultures see rabbits as incredibly lucky animals. Because of this, seeing a bunny in the wild, or having one cross your path, is accepted as a good luck omen.
In particular, seeing a rabbit can be symbolic of good luck in romance, family life, and your finances.
Rabbits are also spiritually powerful. Seeing a rabbit could symbolize an impending spiritual awakening or revelation. A rabbit running across your path could symbolize the need to follow your intuition.
Are Black Rabbits Lucky?
Black rabbits are often considered the symbolic inversion of white rabbits. Many people feel that they are bad luck. Despite this, black rabbits are not inherently symbolic of bad luck. They are not like black cats, in this sense. Instead, black rabbits symbolize the darker, more private sides of our emotions.
So, while black rabbits are not inherently lucky, they are not exactly unlucky either. Instead they are representative of inner turmoil, anxieties, and the darker sides of our life. While loss, grief, and pain are not pleasant, they are natural. This duality is part of what makes rabbits so symbolically powerful.
What Do Rabbits Symbolize in Literature And Movies?
The nature of literature means that rabbits can symbolize many things, depending on the authors’ intentions. From pet rabbits to spirit animals, literature provides the most diverse rabbit symbology anywhere. There are symbolizations, however, which are far more common. These include:
- Kindness and tenderness
- Spiritual exploration
For example, in the classic novel Of Mice and Men, the rabbits symbolize Lennie’s dreams for the future: prosperity, kindness, and serenity in a place of their own. Rabbits also symbolize the impossibility of this dream being fulfilled. Rabbits are flighty creatures, which slip through the fingers of even the most skilled hunter. For Lennie, the pastoral dream that the rabbits represent is as elusive and fragile as the wild animals themselves.
By contrast, the rabbits in Jordan Peele’s horror film Us represent the rebirth, which the Tethered seek on the surface world. More than that, they symbolize the way in which they aim to seek their rebirth. By eating the rabbits raw, the Tethered sustain themselves and their dream. By killing Adelaide and her family, they will realize those dreams.
The most classic example of a rabbit as a symbol in literature, however, is found in Alice in Wonderland. The white rabbit symbolizes not only rebirth, but acts as a psychopomp: a guide between worlds. For Alice, the white rabbit is a guide, leading her onto a new chapter of her life. Rabbits are animals of duality in literature, religion, and mythology, and often symbolize a link between the human world and the spiritual world.
Rabbits Symbolize Duality
While it may seem strange to place such heavy symbolism on such small, soft creatures, it is actually very appropriate. Despite being prey animals, rabbits can be fierce and will fight to protect their territories and family.
Rabbits represent a number of things to people across the world, but they are most often considered symbolic of:
- Good luck
Yet, depending on how they appear, they can also symbolize:
Rabbits are extremely contradictory animals. Small but fierce, soft yet strong, fearful yet clever, they are the ultimate prey animal. Despite this, they have survived and even thrived in the face of their many predators. This could be why so many cultures consider them lucky.
By understanding the symbolic importance of rabbits, you can better understand and love your own bunnies. These delightful little critters are not only good pets. They have been important to many people and cultures across history.