Where does the Easter bunny come from?

The origins of the Easter Bunny are more mysterious than you might think, and religion has nothing to do with it.

Who doesn’t know the origins of Bugs, Thumper or Peter Cottontail? These famous rabbits are beloved characters from classic childhood cartoons, films and literature. But have you ever wondered how the most famous bunny of all, the Easter Bunny, became synonymous with the feast commemorating the resurrection of Jesus? Discover these myths and legends about Easter traditions.

The story of the Easter bunny

While there is no historical documentation as to how a bunny became the “furry” face of Easter, perhaps the most obvious connection is the calendar. April showers bring not only spring flowers, but also the birth of baby rabbits. Spring and rabbits are emblematic symbols of birth and renewal. “Rabbits (originally hares) are long-standing fertility symbols associated with the onset of spring, because they are so prolific and give birth as soon as the weather warms,” notes Diane Shane Fruchtman, PhD, Assistant Professor of Religion, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey.

But according to Dr. Fruchtman, there is no religious significance in a bunny being part of the Easter holiday. “The feast of Easter is a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus who, according to the gospels of Mark, Matthew and Luke, celebrated the Jewish holiday of Passover on a Thursday (the last supper was a Passover Seder, celebrating the exodus of the Israelites of Egypt), was crucified on a Friday and rose from the dead on a Sunday, the third day after his crucifixion.

In fact, the Easter egg has a more historical context than the Easter Bunny in that the eggs may have been part of the Passover Seder plate during the Last Supper, as is still the case today. ‘hui. “We’re not sure, but later Jewish sources firmly incorporate the egg into the Passover ritual,” says Dr. Fruchtman, “although there are no rabbits to be found. Find out why eggs are linked to Easter.

When did the Easter Bunny start bringing gifts on Easter morning?

The first reference to the Easter bunny dates back to some time before the 17the century when the Germanic people of Europe introduced the Osterhase, a rabbit that gave gifts to children at Easter. As History.com explains: When these Germanic immigrants settled in America in the 1700s, they brought this tradition with them to Pennsylvania. Tradition even called for children to leave carrots for the Osterhase, much like leaving cookies for Santa on Christmas.

Another popular theory about the Easter bunny

But there is another popular theory about the origin of the Easter Bunny: the Ostara myth. According to theconversation.com, the 8th century scholar known as Venerable Bede, in his book, The count of time, stated that the word “Easter” comes from “Eostre” (another version of the name “Ostara”).

Dr Fruchtman develops this theory: “The English Bede monk of the 7th / 8th century says that the word comes from an Anglo-Saxon goddess, Eostre, whose feast day in spring coincided with the day of the Christian paschal celebration. But no other source mentions Eostre, and it’s entirely possible that Bede made it up. But Bede makes no mention of the rabbits or the eggs associated with him.

While the true origins of the Easter Bunny are never fully known or agreed, the Easter Bunny and his sidekick, the Easter Egg, continue to be much-loved traditions of the Easter holiday. including anything related to rabbits, eggs or fertility, that doesn’t mean the Easter bunny and Easter eggs aren’t religious traditions, ”says Dr. Fruchtman. “Religion is much more than doctrine, texts, beliefs and sacred buildings; it is about practices, community, memory, family, home and traditions that are meaningful to you. If you’re looking for more fun traditions to incorporate into your Easter celebration, try these fun Easter egg games.

It will be hard to find someone who will argue that finding a chocolate bunny in your Easter basket won’t make you jump, whether or not you believe in the Easter Bunny. Then learn about the stories behind other popular Easter traditions.

Alicia R. Rucker