Why are bunnies a significant part of Easter?
Easter is upon us once again, and we are being bombarded by chocolate bunnies, chocolate eggs, and dyed egg kits.
What do bunnies and eggs have to do with Easter?
It all started with the German immigrants. They brought the Easter Bunny, “Osterhase” or “Oschter Haws,” to Pennsylvania in the 1700s. Little children made nests in hopes that the Easter Bunny would lay its eggs in their nests. This tradition gave us the Easter basket.
Rabbits became a part of the Easter tradition in the 19th century. They became a symbol of new life because they give birth in the Spring, and their litters are big. This brings us to a legend spread across generations and around the world that the Easter Bunny lays, decorates, and hides eggs. The symbol of the rabbit stems from pagan tradition, the festival of Eostre—a goddess of fertility whose animal symbol was a bunny.
Spring symbolizes new life and rebirth, and therefore, we not only have rabbitts, but we also have eggs which are also ancient symbols of fertility, new life, and rebirth. Iranians have decorated eggs for thousands of years to celebrate the New Year, Nowruz, which occurs in the spring equinox.
Christians would abstain from eating eggs and meat during Lent, and Easter was the first chance to eat eggs.
According to legend, Easter eggs symbolize the empty tomb of Jesus, from which he was resurrected. Mary was present at her son’s crucifixion on Good Friday, and she brought eggs with her to feed the soldiers in hopes they would be less cruel to her son Jesus. She cried her tears which fell on the eggs spotting them with brilliant colors. Another legend tells us that the blood from Jesus’s wombs dripped onto the eggs, making them turn red.
Traditions change as the years pass, and we become more of a multicultural society. Everyone adds a little to the holiday of Easter.
Easter is a time to start a new life. A time to clear our minds and enter a new Spring. A time for Christians to celebrate Jesus and what he represents. It is a time for all of us to look around and find a way to make this world a better place.
Thanks to the bunnies and chickens in our lives.