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The History of the Easter Bunny Tradition

The Christian holiday Easter is the celebration of Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the dead. In the New Testament of the Bible, it says three days after his crucifixion Jesus rose from the dead. The Bible tells us in those three days Jesus fought and conquered death so all people can be forgiven of their sins and live an eternal life with the Father in Heaven.

So what does a bunny who delivers candy-filled, colored eggs to children in early hours of the morning have to do with Easter? One thing that seems worth mentioning is rabbits don’t even lay eggs. So one can’t help but wonder how this connection was made in the first place? Unfortunately like the origin of April Fool’s Day, the origin of the Easter bunny is a mystery.

There are several theories on the history and origin of this Easter tradition but none are absolutely conclusive.

According to History.com, “The most prominent secular symbol of the Christian holiday, the Easter bunny reportedly was introduced to America by the German immigrants who brought over their stories of an egg-laying hare.”

This was said to happen around the 1700s. The tradition of decorating eggs dates back farther than that. It is believed that tradition began in the 13th century.

The story goes that the Germans Easter bunny, which they called “Osterhase” or “Oschter Haws”, would leave its colored eggs in the nests the children would leave for it. This is where the tradition of leaving out an Easter basket the night before Easter came from.

The holiday is also said to have some probable pagan connections. One of these connections being to the festival of Eostre. Eostre is the pagan goddess of fertility. The animal symbol for Eostre is a bunny.

Another one of these connections is the Easter egg.

As mentioned before, Easter celebrates the resurrection of Christ. The holiday as we all well know takes place in the spring. Resurrection and spring have the concurrent theme of new life.

According to History.com, “The egg, an ancient symbol of new life, has been associated with pagan festivals celebrating spring.”

The decorating of said eggs is believed to steam from eggs once being a food that people were forbidden to eat during the season of Lent. People decorated the eggs to symbolize the end of the fast and eat them on Easter day to celebrate.

Several different traditions have been created from the Easter bunny and egg tradition, such as egg hunts and egg rolling.

Fun fact: There is an annual Easter Egg Roll held at the White House the Monday after Easter. The White House first held this event in 1878.

The goal of the egg rolling game is for those participating to roll their egg as far as they can without cracking it. The one who rolls it the farthest wins. The eggs are usually roll dyed and hard-boiled.

According to History.com, “...some people have considered egg rolling symbolic of the stone blocking Jesus’ tomb being rolled away, leading to his resurrection.”

However, the bunny is not a totally universal symbol for Easter. In some parts of Germany, a fox is a symbol of Easter. In Switzerland, it is a cuckoo bird.