Have you ever wondered how a rabbit became the symbol of Easter? If so, you are not alone. So how did the Easter bunny get its job delivering colorful Easter eggs? After all rabbits are mammals and don’t even lay eggs. Shouldn’t the symbol for Easter be an animal that actually lays eggs, like a lizard or chicken?
In Germany, rabbits have been associated with spring and fertility since the pre-Christian era. In fact, the rabbit was the symbol of Eostra, the pagan Germanic goddess of spring and fertility. This isn’t surprising when you consider that rabbits are prolific breeders. Rabbits are able to breed at a young age and can produce several litters in a year. There is a reason for the saying, “to breed like bunnies.” It is believed that this pagan symbol of spring and fertility merged with Christian traditions in 17th century Germany. In other words, the Christian holiday of Easter, which celebrated the resurrection of Jesus, became superimposed on pagan traditions that celebrated the “rebirth” of life associated with spring.
So why does the Easter bunny bring eggs? Since ancient times, eggs have also been a symbol of fertility and rebirth. So even though rabbits don’t lay eggs, both of these pagan symbols of fertility and spring became incorporated with the traditions of Easter. Writings from the 17thcentury in Germany describe the Oschter Haws (Easter hare). According to folklore, the Easter bunny would lay colorful eggs in the nests (baskets) of good children. German immigrants brought the tradition of the Easter Bunny to the United States in the 18th century. Over the years, the tradition evolved to include chocolates and toys in addition to Easter eggs.
So there you have it. The Easter bunny and Easter eggs originated as pagan symbols of spring and rebirth. Over the centuries, these ancient symbols became associated with the Christian holiday of Easter such that the two traditions have merged together to what people celebrate today.
Wishing everyone a Happy Easter.