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Easter Bunny Origin

Updated on February 2, 2013

Easter Bunny Origin Has Roots in Early Traditions

What does a giant rabbit who hides colored eggs and candy have to do with the Christian holiday of Easter? And how did this big bunny become such an integral part of spring's biggest celebration? You might guess that some modern chocolatier invented the Easter Bunny as a way to commercialize the holiday and sell candy. But you'd be wrong. The Easter Bunny origin can actually be traced to pre-Christian traditions.

Easter Bunny Origin

History of the Easter Bunny goes way back

Today, the Easter Bunny is a familiar part of many Easter celebrations. He comes the night before Easter and hides eggs and candy for good children. But how did the Easter Bunny tradition get started? The roots can can be traced back to pre-Christian times.

Many ancient cultures celebrated the coming of spring, and it's thought that Easter got its name from the Anglo-Saxon fertility goddess Eastre (also spelled Eostre, Ostare, Ostara and other variations). This connection was first mentioned by the Christian scholar Bede, who wrote in his book "De Ratione Temporum" that Easter was named after Eostre. She was the mother goddess of the Saxon people in northern Europe who represented spring and fertility, as life is reborn every spring after the cold winter.

A festival was held each spring in Ostara's honor, and she was often shown in the company of a rabbit, which was a symbol of fertility. Some accounts say that the Saxons revered rabbits as the earthly incarnation of Ostara.

Eggs, too, have long been recognized as symbols of fertility and life. But how rabbits and eggs became intertwined in the myth of an Easter Bunny who brings gifts to children seems a bit unclear. An article about the history of Easter on About.com says, "The custom of an Easter egg hunt began because children believed that hares laid eggs in the grass. The Romans believed that 'All life comes from an egg.'" Another article from the National Zoo says there are several myths about Ostara and her rabbits. "According to one story, Ostara transformed a pet bird into a rabbit to entertain some children, and the rabbit proceeded to lay colored eggs that the goddess then gave to the kids. In another version, a small girl asked the goddess to save a bird... The goddess saved the bird by turning it into a rabbit, which produced colored eggs."

So the tradition of an egg-giving rabbit started in Europe and was later brought to America by German settlers. Germans can also take credit for creating candy Easter bunnies. According to Wikipedia, the first edible bunnies were made in the early 1800s in Germany and were made of pastry and sugar.

From: Easter Bunny Origin on HubPages

This illustration of the goddess Ostara was created by Johannes Gehrts and published in 1901. In the image, Ostara flies through the heavens surrounded by Roman-inspired putti, beams of light, and animals, including a rabbit.

Books About the History of Easter

If you'd like to know more about the history of Easter and the Easter Bunny origin, check out these books from Amazon.

Did You Learn Something About the Easter Bunny Origin?

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    • adragast24 profile image

      adragast24 4 years ago

      Thanks for the information, I did not know where this tradition was coming from.

    • profile image

      dellgirl 4 years ago

      I enjoyed your explanation of the origin of the Easter bunny, it's really interesting. Thanks for sharing this.

    • KReneeC profile image

      KReneeC 5 years ago

      I honestly learned a lot! I had no idea! Great lens!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Very interesting read!

    • profile image

      isylumn 6 years ago

      I imagined my own origin story for the Easter Bunny - http://isylumn.wordpress.com/2011/05/21/the-easter...

    • profile image

      Cardtouche 6 years ago

      Teach me to be so cynical - I did think it was an elaborate chocolate ploy for the masses! Some good info here - thanks

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 7 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      This is very interesting info about the Origin Of The Easter Bunny. Thank you.