Chinese New Year 2023: Famous rabbits in pop culture

Chinese New Year 2023: Famous rabbits in pop culture


The famous rabbits the world knows and loves

As the Year of the Tiger comes to an end, we can expect a change of pace as we say goodbye to the roaring tiger and welcome the Year of the Rabbit. According to the Chinese zodiac, this upcoming new year embodies the ‘yin’, passive principle of the universe which manifests in quietness, fluidity, and contemplation. 

Above all, the Year of the Rabbit is predicted to be a year of hope because the rabbit is associated with peace, prosperity, and longevity in Asia. In Chinese culture, the rabbit is the luckiest of all 12 animals in the zodiac and symbolises energy, elegance and beauty whilst Korean folktales typically present the rabbit as quiet and claver. In Japan, rabbit figurines such as maneki-usagi are used as lucky charms for new businesses, typically placed outside shops and restaurants to bring good luck and wealth to the owner. 

Such affection for the rabbit has travelled far and wide. As the strength and quiet confidence of the rabbit moves us steadily towards our goals in 2023, let’s take a look at the long and rich history of the rabbit that has percolated into popular culture.

Related: Chinese New Year 2023: Rabbit-inspired accessories to wear for good luck

Moon Rabbit a.k.a. Jade Rabbit

Tatler Asia

OVER THE MOON -  (Pictured)

Above A scene from ‘Over the Moon’, an animated feature about a young girl on a mission to prove that the moon goddess Chang’e is real (Photo: Netflix)

The Moon Rabbit is a Lunarian rabbit from Netflix film Over the Moon. He is the companion of Chang’e, the Chinese Moon Goddess and Queen of Lunaria, and uses his ability to make potions that would bring bright light over darkness for Chang’e.

Folklore throughout Asia has held the rabbit as a symbol of rebirth that is commonly taken to represent the moon. Originating from Chinese folklore, the mystical and enchanting Moon Rabbit is a noble and benevolent creature who accompanies the Moon Goddess and pounds the elixir of life. In East Asia, the Moon Rabbit has become a widespread cultural symbol to whom offerings are made during Mid-Autumn Festival.

Peter Rabbit

The Tale of Peter Rabbit, written by British author Beatrix Potter published in 1902, features the mischievous antics of Peter Rabbit. Originally written in a letter to amuse a sick child of her former governess, what was created for private enjoyment became one of the most celebrated tales of the 20th century.

A popular anthropomorphic character, Peter’s cheeky and adventurous spirit is an integral part of the lives of millions of children, and one which they remember fondly as adults. He appears in five more books, and was so popular that it spawned a lucrative empire of merchandise, TV series, and films. In recent years, Peter hit the big screen as a live action movie starring talk show host James Corden, re-introducing the character to a new generation of fans. 

Related: 5 adorable rabbit accessories to usher in Chinese New Year in style

White Rabbit

First appearing in Lewis Carroll’s 1865 book Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, the White Rabbit is a major character that has been in several adaptations including Disney’s 1951 animated film Alice in Wonderland. Alice first sees him running on the riverbank and curiously runs after him, falling into a rabbit hole. The White Rabbit serves the King and Queen of Heart’s royal herald, and has a habit of being late—he is famously quoted in popular culture for saying, “I’m late! I’m late! For a very important date!”, whilst holding a pocket watch.

Related: Home Tour: A dreamy Taipei apartment inspired by Alice in Wonderland, macarons and picture books

Bugs Bunny

Since his introduction in 1940, Bugs Bunny’s mischievous antics have delighted millions. The witty ‘wabbit’ is best known for his starring roles in the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies series produced by Warner Bros. Whilst some see him as cocky and brash, one can say Bugs is a charismatic and self-assured character.

A provocateur and a joker, his catchphrase “What’s up, Doc?” is still popular today as a line uttered in totally unexpected situations. These personality traits are what always seem to get him out of trouble and allows him to outsmart his rivals. In 1997, Bugs appeared on a U.S. postage stamp, the first cartoon to be honoured such, beating the iconic Mickey Mouse. 

Related: Chinese New Year 2023: Rabbit-inspired accessories to wear for good luck

Lola Bunny

Appearing 1996 in the classic movie Space Jam , Lola Bunny is a female rabbit created by Warner Bros to resonate with contemporary girls. Lola is a confident, super-friendly Action Girl who is also Bugs Bunny’s girlfriend. Her basketball skills have impressed Michael Jordan and she is lusted after by several male toons.

Lola is a divisive amongst fans—some who enjoyed her sassy ‘you go, girl!’ personality, others found her ditzy and sexy personality overbearing. Her first official appearance was in a comic book called Bugs Bunny Comic Book #108. In the 2021 film Space Jam: A New Legacy, Lola was voiced by actress Zendaya

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Judy Hopps

Judy Hopps is the protagonist in Disney’s 2016 animated film Zootopia. Plucky, courageous, and kind, she is the first rabbit officer of the Zootopia Police Department who goes on to solve big cases despite being told numerous times she can’t make it. But Judy is an optimist who tries her best to be good at what she does. Whilst she may be overly idealistic, she does not submit to discrimination. 

Related: 6 Exciting New Shows to Stream on Disney+ and Netflix in November 2022

My Melody

Hello Kitty’s best friend, My Melody, is a white rabbit from Japanese company Sanrio as its take on the Little Red Riding Hood. She is a honest, good-natured rabbit who wears a pink hood and often has a bow or flower on her right side. An endearing cultural icon born in the magical forest of Maryland, many merchandise and TV appearances have followed since her first debut. 


Miffy is a fictional rabbit appearing in a series of picture books created by Dutch artist Duck Bruna. Its original Dutch name, Nijntje, is derived from the diminutive konijntje meaning “little bunny”, and it was first drawn in 1955. She is a positive and uncomplicated bunny who is loved by children from all over the world.

This Lunar New Year, Tommy Hilfiger welcomes the Year of the Rabbit with a special Miffy collaboration. The capsule collection embraces Miffy’s fun-loving and adventurous spirit by giving the American classic prep style a playful twist. 

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