Origins of the Easter bunny and Easter story
There is no story in the Bible about a long-eared, cotton-tailed creature known as the Easter Bunny. There is also no passage on young children painting eggs or chasing baskets overflowing with delicious Easter treats.
And real rabbits certainly don’t lay eggs.
Why are these traditions so ingrained in Easter Sunday? And what do they have to do with the resurrection of Jesus? Well, to be frank, nothing.
The bunnies, eggs, Easter gifts, and fluffy yellow chicks in gardening hats likely came from pagan roots. These tropes were incorporated into the celebration of Easter separately from the Christian tradition of honoring the day Jesus Christ rose from the dead.
According to the University of Florida Center for Children’s Literature and Culture, the origin of the celebration – and the origin of the Easter Bunny – dates back to pre-Christian Germany in the 13th century, when people worshiped several gods and goddesses.
The Teutonic deity Eostra was the goddess of spring and fertility, and parties were held in her honor on the spring equinox. Its symbol was the rabbit due to the animal’s high reproduction rate.
Spring also symbolized new life and rebirth; eggs were an ancient symbol of fertility. According to History.com, Easter eggs represent the resurrection of Jesus.
The first legend of the Easter Bunny was documented in the 1500s. Around 1680, the first story of a rabbit laying eggs and hiding them in a garden was published. These legends were imported to the United States in the 1700s, when German immigrants settled in the Dutch country of Pennsylvania, according to the Center for Children’s Literature and Culture.
The tradition of making nests for rabbits to lay their eggs soon followed. Eventually, the nests became decorated baskets, and colored eggs were exchanged for candies, treats, and other small gifts.
So while you slaughter chocolate bunnies (I’ve heard chocolate is good for you!)
A basket full of facts about rabbits
Rabbits don’t eat meat, but they find plenty of other things to snack on: various herbs, lettuce, leafy weeds and other plants.
Rabbits are generally fast, because they have to be. Cottontail rabbits run in zigzags – up to 18 miles an hour – when trying to escape a predator.
Rabbits were originally classified as rodents, but in 1912 their dignity was restored when they joined the order of “lagomorphs”, which also doesn’t sound like a cool name but is still a bit of a hair. (or a hare) better than a rodent.
A rabbit’s ears can be over 4 inches long.
Rabbits sometimes eat their own feces, just in case they haven’t received all the nutrients the first time around. Hey, a bunny must do what a bunny must do.
It’s not all fun and Easter eggs for most rabbits in the wild. As an animal of prey, they must be constantly on the lookout. Because of this, they have well-placed eyes so that they can see nearly 360 degrees around them, and they are keen observers of air threats.