The Year of the Rabbit is being celebrated in Vancouver’s Chinatown for the first time in years. The parade in Chinatown has attracted thousands this year, including our Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau. It is rather wonderful to see the joy return in people’s faces watching the dragons and rabbits, as this is the Year of the Rabbit.
Speaking of rabbits, two stories emerge from memory. My maternal grandmother Ellen was a gamekeeper’s daughter. The family lived in a humble cottage on the estate. Rabbit was a staple, I’m sure, of a diet largely deprived of any other protein. During the Depression years of the 1930s, the T. Eaton department store in Winnipeg carried rabbit in their meat section from time to time. My grandmother would drop in to chat with mother. “By the way,” she would say casually, “I have ordered rabbit for you at Eaton’s.”
Now mother hated rabbit, and father would eat the stew mother made of it with obvious reluctance. My sister Leona and I didn’t mind its flavour of “slightly wild” at all. And the gravy that went along with the tender pieces of rabbit was even more delicious.
In England’s Dorset many years later, I heard sounds in the shrubbery as I hiked in trees near the coast. Startled at first, I thought of wild animals, like the wild animals we know in Canada. Then I realized that the sounds were made by rabbits, with which England abounds. We have them too, of course, but not every family enjoys the meat; at least, not as they enjoy mince beef, say, or even roast turkey.
The Year of the Rabbit in Chinese communities refers to the calendar year, which doesn’t imply eating the meat of said rabbits. It’s a year, named after the qualities of the animal most of us associate with Easter bunnies, those cute little creatures in baskets with coloured eggs. The point is the recognition of a different culture with all its colour and character, which we can enjoy again in Chinatown.
What happened to “saving our planet”? All this going to other planets is nothing but an ego trip, for all those multi-billionaires who obviously don’t care about what happens to our future.
Spences Bridge, B.C.