- Date of Issue:
- Edi Berk
- Joh. Enschede Stamps
- 4-colour offset in sheets of 25 stamps
- TR8 OBA free 102 g/m2
- 40.00 x 30.00 mm
- Comb 14 : 13 1
- The year of the rabbit
A system of dividing time using twelve animals was used in China as early as the 5th century, and some experts believe that the origins of this tradition go back even further into the past. The Chinese otherwise used a 60-year cycle of ten "heavenly stems" and twelve "earthly branches" to count years, and a sequence of eleven domestic animals and a dragon was undoubtedly easier to remember.
And why did the rabbit deserve fourth billing among the chosen dozen? One of the explanations is that people selected the animals and their order based on the times when they were most active. According to the traditional Chinese concept, the day is divided into twelve two-hour units, and begins at eleven in the evening. Between eleven and one in the morning you can hear the scurrying of rats, cows chew their cud between one and three, the tiger is most successful at hunting over the next two hours, then the rabbit is the most active and so on. The rabbit is not busy stripping the leaves off clover as we might expect, but is diligently gathering herbs on the Moon, since the night gives way to the day between five and seven o'clock.
Everyone both young and old knows the story of the rabbit on the moon. She is actually the young maiden Chang'e, who chose to drink the elixir of immortality and fly into the heavens rather than allowing the wrong people to make use of it. She didn't want to abandon her beloved, but as an immortal being she could not stop before the Moon. People still gaze into the sky during the mid-autumn holiday and feast on moon cakes in her memory.
Mateja Petrovčič, PhD