Where Did the Easter Bunny Come from?
Easter is right around the corner. Which means it’s time to go get some eggs and chocolate rabbits. If you’re wondering why Easter’s date changes, we also have that covered. But why did we modernize the mascot of the oldest Christian holiday as a rabbit? Especially because (if you’ve ever read the Bible or observed the Christian religion) there exists no “Easter Bunny.” Rabbits don’t even lay eggs either, so when did we just merge the two?
Further Reading: Why Does Easter Change Dates Every Year?
What Does Easter Celebrate Anyway?
We’ll do a quick overview of Easter for those who aren’t familiar. Given that it’s the oldest among the Christian holidays, observing Easter is quite important for those who do. In short, it’s a celebration of Jesus’ resurrection. He was crucified and placed in a tomb for some three days before rising again.
Under Pope Gregory I, Easter would be observed with a 40 days of fasting, known as Lent. Depending on where you fall on the Christian spectrum there may or may not be exceptions to Lent.
The Easter Egg
Let’s tackle the egg part of Easter first–since it’s really weird to imagine a rabbit laying eggs. Plus, the symbolism of an egg is way more (at face value) straightforward to understand.
Eggs have historically, and throughout literature, symbolized both birth and rebirth. You’d imagine at that point, then, that we can all wash our hands and be done with it. Easter is the rebirth of Jesus, and therefore eggs are a more literal interpretation of that. While that is in part the case, there are some specific reasons Christians chose to sit on the eggs. Especially because, you know, there are many symbols for rebirth.
The egg actually represents the empty tomb of Jesus–the same one he was resurrected from. There’s also an Early Christian tradition of making Easter eggs a specific color. That color being red, as an homage to the blood of Christ.
What About Easter Egg Hunts and Games?
You might be wondering why those who observe Easter may go on egg hunts and the like. Turns out, it’s not just a commodification of Easter, but may be an adoption of Slavic culture when the Early Christians were busy assimilating as many people as possible.
When Christians were still moving through and assimilating those they considered pagan, Slavic cultures decorated eggs as part of their own culture.
Further Reading: What Does it Mean to Be Pagan?
The Easter Bunny
Like how Easter eggs stem from pagan tradition, so too may the Easter Bunny. While its origins are shrouded, it’s incredibly likely that the Easter Bunny has its roots in the Germanic goddess Eostre. No really, that’s her name. A large part of her symbolism comes from rabbits, hares, and eggs, lending more to the Christian assimilation of other cultures to rope them into the larger church.
More Easter Symbols
Easter is also commonly associated with lambs and lilies. Jesus is typically called the “Lamb of God,” which is probably why lamb is commonly eaten in observance of Easter.
Easter Lilies are commonly referred to as the “Apostles of Hope.” There’s a reason they’re normally white too–as white is often a color that represents purity. They’re meant to show how Christ himself is pure–free of sin and all that.
Unlike the rabbit and eggs, both the lamb and lilies are referenced in the Bible–so their origins are far less of an investigation.
Click here to find some fun Easter quizzes!