If you’ve ever wondered where the Easter Bunny came from, and how it has anything to do with religion, you’re not alone. Less than half of all adults describe Easter as having to do with Jesus Christ’s resurrection, and only 67 percent of them consider it a religious holiday. It’s easy to see why. Finding a connection between a bunny that leaves colorful eggs stuffed with candy on Easter morning, and religion is hard. Furthermore, there’s no mention of eggs or rabbits in scripture, so, what gives?
According to History, the age-old theory is that the Easter Bunny stems from Pagan traditions. It’s based on the Pagan goddess of fertility, Eostre, whose symbol was a rabbit. Rabbits have traditionally symbolized fertility because of their “energetic breeding.” Rabbits do the deed really quickly, and females give birth within 31 days of breeding.
Eggs are representations of new life. In the 13th century, churches asked their congregations to abstain from eggs during Lent, and they were only allowed to eat them again on Easter. In the 19th century, high Russian society began exchanging ornately decorated eggs (also known as Faberge eggs) on Easter as gifts.
When it comes to the bunnies delivering the eggs, the story gets a little more complicated. During the German immigration to Pennsylvania in the 1700s, fable says they brought an egg-laying hare that they called Osterhase or Oschter Haws. It laid colorful eggs, and the German children made nests for the hare to lay them in. The custom began to spread across the United States. The hare in the story became a rabbit, and its deliveries grew to more than just colorful eggs to include chocolate, candy, and gifts in baskets instead of nests.
The Catholic tradition sounds a little different. They say the Ancient Greeks thought that rabbits could reproduce as virgins, like the Virgin Mary. During the Medieval period, rabbits were depicted next to the Virgin Mary in manuscripts and paintings, serving as a symbol of her virginity. They were considered a symbol of fertility, which is associated with new life, and thus, the Spring season.
Regardless of what you believe, the bunny has become a long-standing symbol of Easter, religious or not. Plus, what would humanity do without embarrassing baby pictures of ourselves sitting atop people in terrifying Easter Bunny costumes? Exactly.
Now go start stocking up on that pharmacy candy. You’re already thinking about peanut butter cup eggs. You’re welcome.
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