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The Easter Bilby in Australia: move over Easter Bunny

Updated on February 26, 2013

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.

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Home of the bilby

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

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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.

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Chocolate bunnies

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.

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  • LongTimeMother profile image

    LongTimeMother 4 years ago from Australia

    lol. How delightful to see the fame of the bilby is circling the globe. I've been buying at least one chocolate bilby each year for nearly 20 years. I find it hard to imagine that they have ever outsold the traditional chocolate eggs at easter though.

    Darrell Lea was placed in administration after 85 years of making great chocolates. I wonder whether the statistic you gave for sales in 2003 was specific to Darrell Lea. You just have to look at the supermarket shelves in the lead up to easter to see that the bilby has not taken the lead just yet. Maybe someday ...

    Nice hub. Voted up. :)

  • Sunshine625 profile image

    Linda Bilyeu 5 years ago from Orlando, FL

    Love it! Perfect link! Thank you!:)

  • PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

    Justin W Price 5 years ago from Juneau, Alaska

    i dunno but you can make stew out of them. rabbits, i mean. and it's tasty

  • Uninvited Writer profile image
    Author

    Susan Keeping 5 years ago from Kitchener, Ontario

    Do rabbits? :)

  • PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

    Justin W Price 5 years ago from Juneau, Alaska

    do they lay eggs? ;-)

  • Uninvited Writer profile image
    Author

    Susan Keeping 5 years ago from Kitchener, Ontario

    Thanks Bard.

    Thanks for all the great comments, the Bilby is sort of cute.

  • Bard of Ely profile image

    Steve Andrews 5 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

    The Easter Bilby is really cute and gets my vote up!

  • Sandyspider profile image

    Sandy Mertens 5 years ago from Wisconsin, USA

    Strange looking animal and yet cute in a way.

  • dablufox profile image

    dablufox 5 years ago from Australia

    It's a crying shame there are so few of these animals in the wild. I didn't realize that they were so threatened. No doubt fox's and feral cats have contributed to their drop in numbers.

  • Anne Pettit profile image

    Anne Pettit 5 years ago from North Carolina

    What a great way to celebrate a holiday and support a good cause. Thanks

  • profile image

    Lynn Hasselberger 5 years ago

    I had no idea there was such a thing. I'll share this with my son who has been questioning the Easter Bunny for a few years. Thanks!

  • skellie profile image

    skellie 5 years ago from Adelaide

    Yes the Bilby is a cute little fella. It is great that an awareness of the Bilby, come about. This is a very informative hub. I have found out a lot about the Bilby, that i never knew.

    Though he will never replace the Easter Bunny! The next generation of Australian children in my family, will be taught about the Easter bunny :)

    Really good hub though, great for Australia - thankyou

    Useful and up

  • CarolineChicago profile image

    Caroline Paulison Andrew 5 years ago from Chicago, IL

    Great hub! I had no idea there was a bilby, let alone an Easter Bilby.

  • Eiddwen profile image

    Eiddwen 5 years ago from Wales

    A brilliant read and thank you so much for sharing this one with us.

    Take care

    Eiddwen.

  • Becky Puetz profile image

    Becky 5 years ago from Oklahoma

    Interesting. Thanks for sharing information about the bibly.

  • chspublish profile image

    chspublish 5 years ago from Ireland

    Great to learn about eh Australain bilby. A cute fella!

  • azee raja profile image

    azee raja 5 years ago from pakistan

    thanks for sharing this information.i love art,traditions and also interesting in histories.

  • manjubose5 profile image

    manjubose5 5 years ago

    Great information and good research! Thanks for sharing.

  • Sally's Trove profile image

    Sherri 5 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

    OMG. If it weren't for this Hub you wrote, I'd have had no way of knowing about the bilby and Easter. Thanks for making a grand connection for all the world to enjoy.

  • JaneA profile image

    JaneA 5 years ago from California

    Thank you for your research about the the history of some of our Easter traditions. As a Aussie living in the US I really enjoyed your story on the Austrlaian Bilby. I can add - Darrell Lee does make very good chocolate - that is something I know from personal experience!

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