The Easter Bilby in Australia: move over Easter Bunny
The Easter Bilby is gaining ground in Australia, pushing the Easter Bunny out of the way. The current movement promoting the Easter Bilby was started by Australian chocolate maker Darrell Lea in 1994 to raise money and awareness about the bilby. More and more Australian children are waking up on Easter morning to a chocolate bilby. By 2003, chocolate Easter bilbys outsold chocolate Easter bunnies by 8 to 1 in Australia.
The first mention of the Easter Bilby was in a book written by nine-year-old Rose-Marie Dusting in 1968, it was called Billy the Aussie Easter Bilby. Since then several other children's books have been written about the Easter Bilby.
Home of the bilby
The bilby is a marsupial and is a member of the bandicoot family. It has a long snout, a very long tongue and long rabbit-like ears. It is usually blue-grey or fawn-grey in color with a white belly. The name bilby means "long nosed rat." Like all marsupials it has a pouch where it keeps its babies, it also lives in a burrow. The bilby does not need water as it gets enough from the food it eats, which includes insects, spiders, fruits, roots and small animals.
The bilby can be found in the Western Australia and Northern Territories of Australia off the Indian Ocean. The bilby has a conservation status of "vulnerable" and there only about 600 of them living in the wild.
Chocolate Easter Bilby
The Easter Bunny
The Easter Bunny has been a symbol of Easter since the 18th century in North America. In pagan society, starting as far back as Ancient Egyptian times, the rabbit was an emblem of fertility. It was eventually co-opted by the Christian church to represent rebirth, most specifically the resurrection of Christ. Eggs were dyed red to represent the blood of Christ. Since eggs were forbidden during Lent, they were boiled in order to keep until Easter.
Our celebrations of Easter, similarly to Christmas, come from the Germans. A character named Oschter Haws would bring eggs and other treats to the children. The children would make their own baskets and hide them for Oschter Haws to find. Eventually, the celebration changed to have the Easter Bunny bringing eggs and hiding them for children to find.
Edible cakes and candies in the shape of a rabbit have been around since the 1800s. These days you see chocolate Easter bunnies, chocolate eggs, and bunny cakes everywhere beginning about a month before Easter. And they are not just popular with children. Over ninety million chocolate bunnies are produced in the United States alone. So far there is no sign of the chocolate Easter bilby in North America.
- Easter Bilby - The Australian Bilby Appreciation Society
- Easter Bilby
Darrell Lea has funded this website to support the endangered Australian bilby.