Have you ever wondered about the origin of the famous Easter Bunny and Easter eggs traditions? Easter is one of those times during the year when families get together to celebrate a major religious event and/or the visitation of the Easter Bunny and his basket full of chocolate and colored eggs. While this is the common association with the holiday, there is quite a historical background stretching behind the pleasantries we celebrate in the modern world. Let’s have a look at this before coming to the famous Bunny.
The Christian faith celebrates Easter as the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Easter marks the end of Lent and the beginning of Easter-tide. What few religious folk don’t realize is that the celebration actually has some roots in paganism.
There are a few religious days of note that coincide with Easter, one of those being the pagan celebration of Spring Equinox. Interestingly enough, the pagan teachings believed that Spring Equinox was the resurrection date of Attis, a consort to the pagan goddess, Cybele.
Pagans aren’t the only ones who shared a reverence for this time of year with the Christians. The Jewish faiths celebrate Passover, a biblical occurrence celebrating the mercy of God through deliberate sparing of believer’s first-borns.
The Easter Bunny and Easter Eggs
All of the above are good reasons why people of faith around the world consider the Easter season one of reverence and observance, but none of these religious events explain how we ended up with a giant rabbit and colored eggs—or do they?
The Easter Bunny is not a commercial invention, created to drive the masses to stores to indulge in chocolates and candies. Believe it or not, the Easter Bunny is the last tribute to the pagan celebration of Easter, a spring-oriented festival held near the Spring Equinox celebration. Easter, goddess of spring, was worshiped in the form of a rabbit. Because of the fertility surrounding rabbits, they were the natural animal of choice for a season or birth and renewal. The rest of the Easter Bunny legend comes from German ancestry, with the earliest notations of bunny visitations written in the year 1500.
The German people would make edible rabbits out of pastry, and told their children that if they were well-behaved the Easter bunny would bring gifts of colored eggs, but only if the children build a hidden, comfy nest for the creature. This nest building later evolved into the tradition of crafting a beautiful Easter basket. The eggs, which seem odd for a rabbit to carry, were known to ancient people as a symbol of new life, and this is the reason why the egg is so symbolic on the holiday.
Easter, for all its religious background, is still widely celebrated for what are pagan reasons, something that doesn’t always sit well with religious zealots in the global community. Purists refuse to join in with hiding eggs and giving away chocolate, thinking the acknowledgement of pagan practices lessens the religious importance of the celebration. What most parents have learned, however, is that children respond more favorably to a giant bunny bearing candy than to a fire-and-brimstone preacher.
Sometimes, conveying the importance of the religious aspect of Easter to a child means playing to the imagination with colored eggs and candy.