By Elaine Dunn | January 2023

As of January 22, the lunar new year will be the Year of the Water Rabbit.  The year of the what??!  Never heard of it?  You’re not alone.

We’re all familiar with the 12 animals (Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig) of the Chinee zodiac that is associated with each lunar year.  But apparently, each of these animals is also paired with the five elements (earth, fire, metal, water and wood) in rotation, creating a 60-year rotation.  

Rabbits have a unique spot in Chinese folklore.  There’s the Jade Rabbit: supposedly the Jade Emperor disguises himself as a beggar to search for an animal to help him find the elixir of life.  He came across a rabbit that jumped into the fire to provide food for the “beggar.”  Impressed by the altruistic act, the emperor took the rabbit to the moon where they make the elixir of life to this day.

What did the past three regular Rabbit years bring?  1975 saw the Vietnam War come to an end. 1987 was the year President Ronald Reagan and Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev agreed it was time to bring down the Berlin Wall and reunite Germany, which happened three years later.  The most recent Rabbit year, 2011, saw the release of “The Help,” an exposé of the lives of African American maids in the 1960s.

The last time there was a Water Rabbit year was 1963 – the year President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.  What will this Water Rabbit year bring?  

Some Chinese astrologers say 2023 will bring harmony, prosperity, luck and peace.  Rabbit years bring lucky breaks, the water element of 2023 may bring major shifts in politics – “wake ups” for those at the top!  For the rest of us, it will be a year of changes AND possibilities. 

For those born in the Rabbit year, the astrologers predict “a calm, measured life …” and cautioned to stay in your comfort zone and to avoid drastic, sudden changes.  Australian scientist-turned-psychic Sarah Yip advised: Think back to your dreams from 2011 and bring them to life in 2023.  Further, “2023 is the time to become a highly paid specialist, so hit the books and grow.”  “Rabbit people” also should avoid risky investments and save up to meet unexpected needs.  Anything else?  Yes, when it rains, it pours!  More bad news for the Rabbit folks.  Per China Travel’s website, if you were born in a Rabbit year, you may “suffer from nervous system disease this year … The best way to solve this problem is to stay positive and keep a balanced diet.”  “Your” year will consist of twists and turns, bringing surprises and bewilderment!  

From the feng shui-ers, 2023 represent continued instability and disorder.  They say the Rabbit, while more agreeable and less fierce than a tiger, is as cunning as a fox.  Those born in Rabbit years have the powerful backing of the tai sui (太歲, gods who directly oppose Jupiter).  But it’s also a good, lucky year for all the other zodiac signs.  According to the 2023 Year of the Rabbit Feng Shui Report, the year comes with “a gentleness that only a bunny can bring … this is the perfect time to remove everything you don’t absolutely love in your home and fill it with absolutely everything you do.”

After the challenges presented by the past few years, we can all do with what the Water Rabbit year promises: hope and prosperity -- a respite from the cold austere energies (to quote the Feng Shui Report).


Related articles:

Chinese New Year: name and decorations, January 2022

Chinese New Year do’s and don’ts, February 2021

Auspicious snacks of Chinese New Year, January 2018


Tea1By Bill Waddington, owner, TeaSource, contributor

There are more than 3000 types of teas in the world, most of them from China, where tea dates back almost 5,000 years.  Legend has it that the emperor Shen Nung discovered tea in 2732 B.C. when some tea leaves blew into his pot of boiling water. It is said the resulting brew with its pleasant aroma and sweet taste invigorated both his body and spirit.

Amazingly all 3,000 types of tea come from one plant that is native to China, Camellia sinensis, the tea plant. While there are many hot herbal drinks like mint and hibiscus, all true tea comes from this one plant.

By Mary Yee, contributor



Paeonia Rockii


China is the original home of most of the peonies grown in the world.  The most commonly grown type is the herbaceous Paeonia lactiflora, a very hardy perennial that dies to the ground each fall.  P. lactiflora features diverse flower forms and colors, and thousands of varieties have been selected by gardeners over centuries of cultivation.

However, China is also the home of the tree peony.  It has woody stems that form a permanent framework of branches and, over time, develops into a large shrub or small tree.  It is the tree peony that the Chinese call “Hwa Wang” or King of Flowers.  The general name for tree peonies in Chinese is “mudan (牡丹).”  

Both kinds of peonies, herbaceous and woody, were first cultivated by the Chinese for the medicinal properties of their roots.  Peonies are still widely planted in China today for medicinal production.  But the beauty of peony flowers ensured that the plants soon made their way into gardens and into Chinese art.

Chinese peonies were introduced to the west in the 18th century although the botanical riches of China, including additional peonies species, continued to be explored and documented by scientists through the 20th century.  In 1926, Dr. Joseph Rock (1884-1962), a plant explorer for the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University, came across a white-flowered tree peony in the courtyard of a Buddhist monastery in western China.  The monastery, called the Choni Lamasery, was located at an elevation of over 8000 feet in the southwestern part of Gansu Province.  Rock was able to collect seeds from this plant and the Arnold Arboretum distributed the seeds to botanical gardens around the world.  The first flowering from these seeds occurred in 1938 at various locations and the beauty of the flower created a sensation in western horticultural circles.

The flowers are very large, white petalled, with golden stamens that are beautifully set off by the distinctive dark purple flares at the base of the petals.  The plant itself is robust and long-lived, becoming a large shrub over time.  In fact, one of the plants grown from Rock’s original seed collection may still be growing in Highdown, the Sussex garden estate of Sir Frederick Stern, a noted English horticulturalist who published a monograph on peonies in 1946.


By Pat Welsh, contributor

While the Taiping Rebellion was gaining ground, the Qing Dynasty also had to contend with another foreign incursion from France and England.  Russia and the United States also were involved, but only in diplomatic efforts.

By Greg Hugh

Today, few would guess that Shanghai once played host to a bustling community of 18,000 – 20,000 Jews  --  the focus of the exhibit “Jewish Refugees in Shanghai (1932-1941).” For Jews desperate to flee the Nazi regime but barred from entry almost everywhere, Shanghai was the “Last Place on Earth” and a rescuing Noah’s Ark.

CAAM Horizweb2

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