This legend is considered to be an extension of Chang’e Flying to the Moon. It tells about three sages who transformed themselves into pitiful old men. One day they met a fox, a monkey and a rabbit, and they begged for food. The fox and the monkey shared their food with the old men; but the rabbit, with nothing to share, jumped into a blazing fire to offer his own flesh instead. The sages were so touched by the rabbit’s kindness that they sent it to live in the Moon Palace, where it became the Jade Rabbit. Chang’e, who lived alone after arriving in the moon, liked the Jade Rabbit at the first sight, and therefore kept it company. As the time went by, Chang’e and Jade Rabbit became inseparable friends.
Hearing about the story of Chang’e and Hou Yi, the Jade Rabbit felt sympathetic to them and decided to make a special heavenly medicine, which could help Chang’e return to Earth. Unfortunately, the Jade Rabbit has still not been able to make it even though he has worked hard for thousands of years. Observing the moon on the Mid-Autumn Day carefully, we can still see the Jade Rabbit making his heavenly medicine.
The tale, specially connecting rabbit to the moon, has made rabbit one of the beloved symbols of the Mid-Autumn Festival.