Easter is fast approaching. It’s the time of year of lavish church services and family dinners, egg rolls on the White House lawn and Easter egg hunts. All of these events are fun, but nothing provides the thrill of finding the basket filled with sweets behind the couch, courtesy of the Easter Bunny.
Unless, of course, that bunny leaves an hard boiled colored egg under the couch cushion for a few months. Whoops.
Religion aside, where did this bunny come from? The bunny was originated in Germany. According to the Liverpool Echo, the roots of the Easter Bunny can be traced back to the 13th century when the Germanic people were first being converted to Christianity.
They were a pagan culture, celebrating several gods and goddesses, once of which was Ostara or Eostre — goddess of fertility and spring. As explained on the website, Goddess Gift, her name derives from words for dawn, the shining light arising from the east. Estrogen derives from her name as well.
Feasts were held during the Spring/Vernal Equinox that welcomed the coming of spring and the rebirth of the land. Ostara was revered for her ushering in the change of season. Wikipedia mentioned that she was often pictured riding in a carriage decorated in lights and pulled by rabbits. The lights were symbols of the lengthening of the days and the rabbits, known for their frequent reproduction, symbolized fertility.
Goddess Gift explains that Easter eggs and the Easter Bunny were both featured in the spring festivals of Ostara, which were initially held during the feasts of the goddess Ishtar. Colored eggs, chicks, and bunnies were all used at festival time to express appreciation for Ostara’s gift of abundance.
As reported in the Liverpool Echo, the feasts changed from worshipping Ostara and Ishtar, to the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. However, the Easter Bunny still had an important role to play as he/she would evaluate children’s behavior and determine is they were worthy of receiving a basket of eggs and sweets.
The tradition of persuading young ones into good behavior in exchange for sweets and gifts continued as the German immigrants settled in the United States. Even now children continue their pursuit of the colored eggs, chicks in the form of Peeps, and toys in a bright, colorful basket. It’s a wonderful tradition that is sure to continue, even if there is an app for that.
Read more about spring by clicking here.