As kids, Easter was a day of celebration beginning with my sisters and me running downstairs in excitement to find our Easter baskets full of small toys and lots of candy.
I’ve carried this tradition forward with my children and just like Easter mornings of my childhood, my girls ran downstairs this morning with excited chatter as they discovered the Easter Bunny had brought each of them some fun Easter treats.
As I thought of Easter, I realized that I really didn’t know how the Easter Bunny came to be part of the celebration. I don’t remember questioning the Easter Bunny as a child. He was just part of my Easters growing up and I was just grateful that he saw fit to bring me a basket every year. I was raised to believe that Easter was a Christian holiday. A celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. So how did a bunny become part of this holiday. Somehow the two just don’t seem to go together, so I did a little research.
It seems that prior to Christianity being introduced in Europe, festivals were held in celebration of spring. They celebrated renewal, birth, rebirth, and fertility.
The Goddess Eostre was the goddess of fertility and her symbol was the hare. What better animal than a rabbit as the symbol of fertility. Tradition states that Eostre cast the hare into the heavens and when we look up at the stars now, we can find the constellation, Lepus the Hare. There are also stories that state Eostre gave Lepus the ability to lay eggs once a year. Eggs are also a symbol of fertility.
One thing that was quite common for Christians was the attempt to take pagan celebration and incorporate them with Christian celebrations and traditions. So as Christianity began to spread into Europe, the pagan celebrations of spring and Eostre were crossed with the ideas and rituals of Christianity.
The first stories of the Easter Bunny comes from Germany in the 15th century and in the 1800’s it was a German tradition to make chocolate bunnies as part of the Easter celebration. So when German settlers came to the United States, they brought their own traditions with them. Part of that celebration was the Easter Bunny or as the German’s called him, Osterhase, who layed brightly colored eggs. He would make special nests in the caps and bonnets of good children. Eventually the tradition grew to include chocolates and candies with the caps and bonnets being replaced with baskets.
So it appears that Christians decided to change things up a bit and added their own twist to a pagan celebration of springtime. A big part of those pagan festivals celebrated fertility and since the symbol of fertility was a hare, we now have a bunny introduced as part of the celebration. Mix in a little German history of Easter and the Easter Bunny and now I understand how a bunny became part of Easter. The story is a bit crazy, but I do want to give a special shout out to the Germans for introducing chocolate bunnies into Easter 🙂
My girls certainly enjoyed their Easter celebration, although they didn’t get any chocolate bunnies this year. We did do something a little different though.
I years past, I have always purchased the little colored tablets you put in vinegar or water to dye the eggs. This year I decided to go natural and used beets, blueberries, turmeric, paprika and spinach to color our eggs. It was a great experiment and other than the spinach, the girls and I really liked the results and will continue using the natural dye method in the future.
Lili got to work on a little puzzle she got for Easter.
Naomi with her Easter basket.
Overall, a good day!