Easter is the day on which Christians celebrate the resurrection of Christ after he died on the cross. Nowhere in the Bible does it describe a bunny hopping about with a basket full of chocolate eggs, which begs the question: What are the origins of the Easter Bunny and why has this idea become so widely accepted that it has actually overshadowed the real reason why Easter Sunday is celebrated?
There is not a very clear origin of where the Easter Bunny originated, and it is somewhat of a mystery. One of the theories of its beginnings is that the rabbit is a symbol originating from a pagan tradition. To be more specific, the rabbit was used during the festival of Eostre; a fertility goddess whose animal symbol is the bunny. The festival occurred in a time when people worshiped a multitude of different gods and goddesses according to their wants and needs. Since rabbits have always had a reputation for tireless breeding habits, it makes perfect sense that they are symbolic of fertility.
Just like spring, eggs are also a representation of new life or rebirth. The traditional act of ornamenting eggs during the holiday is believed to date back hundreds of years ago, to the 13th Century. During this time, congregations were instructed by their church to refrain from consuming eggs during Lent. It was only until Easter Sunday that the consumption of eggs was once again allowed by the Catholic Church. It was not until many years later, when Roman Catholicism dominated Germany, that the association between Easter eggs and the resurrection of Jesus was even made.
It has been said that immigrants from Germany, who settled in Pennsylvania, brought with them to American the idea of the Easter Bunny. They brought with them the tradition of a hare, which was called “Osterhase,” or “Oschter Haws,” who laid eggs of all different colors. The children would then make their own little nests so that this mystical creature could come and lay its colorful eggs inside the nests on Easter morning. As this custom spread throughout the United States, the delivery of colorfully decorated eggs by the happy bunny started to include different kinds of chocolates and candies, and the nest was replaced by brightly colored baskets of all shapes and sizes.
So many Americans are unaware of the reasons why Easter Sunday is a cause for celebration. Chocolate bunnies, pastel-colored candies, and delightful egg hunts have all become a big part of how people celebrate the holiday, but the story behind it is much deeper than the majority of people celebrating this holiday each year seem to realize. The generations of families that started and continued to pass down the tradition of the Easter Bunny have certainly been able to keep its name and story alive. If the Germans who immigrated to the States had never brought their traditions and stories with them, that fluffy bunny might never have found its way into our homes and traditions that are dearly cherished every year.
By Kameron Hadley