Every year on Easter, legend has it that a long-eared, cotton-tailed creature comes to deliver festive baskets full of treats, toys, and delicious sweets to children — and even lays colourful eggs for them to find! Among other Easter traditions like hot cross buns and egg hunts, the Easter Bunny has long been a well-known and popular symbol associated with the holiday — but have you ever wondered about the Easter Bunny’s origins, and how exactly the cute, fluffy woodland creature became such a prevalent symbol of Easter?
Surprisingly, there’s a lot of history behind the mythical story of an egg-bearing rabbit on Easter Sunday (and it’s not just because he’s cute!). The Easter Bunny actually has a long and deeply rooted history in the Christian holiday — and even in pagan traditions. Here’s what to know about the fascinating origins of the Easter Bunny before you welcome the holiday with chocolate rabbits and plenty of bunny-shaped treats — including where the character comes from, why he’s associated with Easter eggs, and how he became such a beloved symbol of the holiday over the years.
So, where does the Easter Bunny come from?
The Bible has no mention of a mythical hare who delivers eggs to children on the day of Jesus Christ’s resurrection — so how exactly did the Easter Bunny become a prominent symbol of one of Christianity’s most important holidays? One theory, according to Time, is that the symbol of the rabbit stems from the ancient pagan tradition believed to have started the celebration of Easter — the festival of Eostre, which honoured the goddess of fertility and spring. Supposedly, the goddess’s animal symbol was a rabbit, which have long traditionally symbolised fertility due to their high reproduction rates.
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As for how the specific character of the Easter Bunny originated, History.com reports that it was first introduced in America in the 1700s by German immigrants in Pennsylvania, who reportedly brought over their tradition of an egg-laying hare named ‘Osterhase’ or ‘Oschter Haws.’ As the story goes, the rabbit would lay colourful eggs as gifts to children who were good — so the kids would make nests in which the bunny could leave his eggs, and would even sometimes leave out carrots in case the hare got hungry! Eventually, the custom spread across the world to become a widespread Easter tradition — and over time, the fabled bunny’s delivery even expanded from just eggs to include other treats such as chocolate and toys.
Why does the Easter Bunny bring eggs?
Since rabbits are mammals (and thus give birth to live young), you might be wondering why exactly the Easter Bunny is said to lay eggs on the holiday. The answer may be as simple as the fact that eggs, like the rabbit, have long been an ancient symbol of fertility, rebirth, and new life — all things associated with the springtime celebration of Easter!
From a Christian perspective, eggs for Easter are said to represent Jesus’ resurrection and his emergence from the tomb. According to History.com, the tradition of decorating eggs for Easter may date back to the 13th century, when eggs were traditionally a forbidden food during the Lent season — which is why people would decorate them as the fasting period came to an end, and then eat them as a way to celebrate Easter Sunday.
What does the Easter Bunny look like today?
Today, the Easter Bunny is traditionally depicted with a white rabbit costume with long ears, often wearing clothes in human-like fashion. He can typically be found at Easter parades and other celebratory events for the holiday carrying a basket filled with colorful eggs, candy, and other treats to give out to kids; like Santa on Christmas.
Interestingly, it’s not always a bunny that brings the Easter eggs in some countries — in Australia, for example, the spring holiday is greeted with the Easter Bilby, a rabbit-like marsupial native to Australia that’s known to be endangered. Other animals include the Easter Cuckoo in Switzerland and, in some parts of Germany, the Easter Fox or the Easter Rooster!
Source: Good Housekeeping US
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The post Here’s the fascinating history of the Easter Bunny appeared first on Good Housekeeping.