In Christianity, Easter marks the day that Jesus Christ was resurrected from the dead. So why then do so many equate the holiday with a giant rabbit that, somehow, lays multicolored eggs? What exactly is the origin of the Easter Bunny?
Folks are clearly curious. Web searches on “easter bunny origin” and “who created the easter bunny” are both off the charts in preparation for Sunday’s holiday. Fortunately, the Web has answers. The good folks at Mental Floss explain how an often tuxedo-clad rabbit became equated with the holiday. And, believe it not, it’s not as random as you might think.
Hundreds of years ago, “many pagan cultures held spring festivals.” One festival was devoted to “Eostre, the goddess of dawn,” and this Eostre was “linked to the hare and the egg, both symbols of fertility.” Christian missionaries, in an attempt to convert the pagans, began to turn these festivals into Christian holidays by mixing the pagan traditions with their own. Two celebrations became one.
Ask Yahoo! notes that “eggs have long been a symbol of rebirth and thus associated with spring celebrations.” Back in the 600s, “Pope Gregory the Great forbade the eating of eggs during Lent (the 40 days preceding Easter), and this helped make eggs a special treat at Easter.”
The modern version of the Easter Bunny (cute and cuddly) was heavily influenced by German traditions dating back to the 1500s. According to Mental Floss, “The Germans converted the pagan rabbit image into Oschter Haws, a rabbit that was believed to lay a nest of colored eggs as gifts for good children.”
Eventually, chocolate became just as popular a gift as pastel-colored eggs. And, if you ask us, a lot tastier.