View Full Version : How did the Easter Bunny originate?

07-04-2009, 03:36 PM
Well this was a question that was posed to me a couple of weeks ago. I truly had no idea so I googled it

How did Easter which is a holiday revolving around the crucifixtion and resurrection of Christ become affiliated with a 6 foot tall Easter Bunny?

Quite a few pagan cultures hold celebrations in the spring. It's the time of year when plants return to life after being dormant all winter and when animals mate and procreate. These festivities celebrate the renewal of life and promote the fertility of crops, animals, and even people, which was important in these agrarian communities. The Saxons believed in a maiden goddess of fertility named Eastre or Eostre (Oestre in Latin) and honored her with a spring festival. Hares and rabbits were considered sacred to Eastre because they are notoriously fertile animals.

In the second century A.D., Christian missionaries tried to convert northern European tribes. To help make Christianity attractive, the missionaries turned pagan festivals into Christian holidays. The pagan Eastre festival occurred around the same time as the Christian celebration marking Christ's resurrection so the two celebrations blended into one, rabbit and all.
Over time, Eastre became Easter, and the symbolism changed as well. Instead of the Easter rabbit symbolizing fertility, the rabbit may symbolize an innocent, vulnerable creature that can be sacrificed, similar to the lamb. To Christians, these innocents are tokens of Christ and the sacrifice he made.
The Easter bunny we know today was influenced by German traditions dating back to the 1500s. German children believed that the Oschter Haws (a magical rabbit) would leave them a nest of colored eggs at Eastertime if they were good. Pennsylvania Dutch settlers brought this tradition to America in the 1700s.

On a related note, eggs have long been a symbol of rebirth and thus associated with spring celebrations. In the 600s, Pope Gregory the Great forbade the eating of eggs during Lent (the 40 days proceeding Easter), and this helped make eggs a special treat at Easter. Many European cultures also have old customs of decorating eggs and giving them as gifts.

07-04-2009, 04:29 PM
thanks for the info Johnie!

no easter bunny here :(

07-04-2009, 04:40 PM
Wow, never knew. Hey I wonder if that is how Estrogen got its name? Makes sense.

07-04-2009, 11:14 PM
Wow, that is fascinating! I never knew.

08-04-2009, 12:44 AM
T'is. Some references spell it Eostre. :yes:

In my parents home we decorated the cooked eggs with paraffin wax (melted, used a common pin on a pencil eraser) and then dyed them. Where the wax was, the dye wouldn't take, of course so you ended up with "fancy" eggs. :yes:

We also had a game of sorts. Starting with Palm Sunday (we dyed eggs the week leading to Palm Sunday and dyed LOADS of them) when company would come over after church we'd "crack eggs." One person held their egg with their fist wrapped around (the top of the egg showing though, and the other person used their egg to tap the top of the "holder's" egg. Which ever egg cracked, was kept by the person doing the cracking. :yes:

Mama also made her Easter bread/cake. It was a round yeast dough loaf with eggs (undyed and uncooked) laid round the top and held in with crosses of dough. They would cook as the dough baked. She'd decorate the bread with nonpareils and icing (and leave one for me without the icing!!! :9: ).

08-04-2009, 12:50 AM
most Chirstian holidays are Pagan based and even some "non-Christian" ones...Halloween for example

(from your friendly pagan friend)

13-04-2009, 08:29 PM
Yep, I believe all Christian holidays are based around pagan holidays. They thought it would be easier to convert people that way.

I didn't have any idea how the giant bunny came into being though :tongue: