Consider the Rabbit: Applying the Bible to the Chinese Zodiac

Reflection at the start of Year of the Rabbit on how the gospel informs our feasting and transforms astrology culture.

Last summer, I was on vacation with my family in Seville, Spain, and we ordered a traditional paella. To my surprise and amusement, it arrived at our table topped with a rabbit head.

Our meal reminded me of the popular Sichuan delicacy of spicy rabbit head and brought back memories of my childhood. I grew up in Chengdu, a city known for its mouthwatering food. We were poor, but on occasion, my grandma would buy me a rabbit head to snack on as a treat. It cost only six Chinese cents, but it would bring me so much joy.

According to the Chinese zodiac, 2023 is the Year of the Rabbit. The dinner on the Chinese New Year Eve is the most important meal of the year for Chinese. I wondered on that evening this year how many Chinese families’ feasts will include rabbit. Of course, not all Chinese eat rabbit head, as the sight of it on a table is not necessarily all that appealing.

In China, the lunar New Year’s Day is the first day of chun jie, or Spring Festival, which lasts for a half month. This year, Chinese New Year’s Day happens to fall on a Sunday (January 22). I wondered if Chinese church pastors and leaders would preach about the Chinese New Year and if they would mention rabbit in their sermons.

Christ has made rabbits clean

A few Chinese preachers I spoke with told me that they would likely mention the lunar New Year and say a few blessing words, but they do not plan to preach specifically about rabbit.

It is not unusual for Chinese preachers to give a sermon about the lunar New Year around Spring Festival. But older generation Christians in conservative Chinese house churches would regard the Chinese zodiac as a superstition that is harmful to the spiritual life of believers. Therefore, sermons mentioning the …

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