There's something odd about Easter bunnies. Bunnies don't lay eggs and have never been mentioned in the Bible. In fact, Easter is a well-celebrated Christian event.
So why do we get crazy with egg hunts?
The history of the Easter bunny and its eggs is murky at best, but experts have theories.
The Story Of Eostre
Back in the olden days of Germany, people used to venerate to a goddess named Eostre (Ostara). With her festival celebrated during the spring equinox, she had become the symbol of new life or rebirth.
She's also the goddess of fertility with shoulders and head of a hare, an animal known to have a very high reproductive rate, as her symbol. A legend, however, shared the choice was special. The goddess herself appointed the hare because of its sincere and generous heart when it offered the most precious thing it owned: an egg.
While the pagan festival waned, the custom continued with children secretly laying nests on the ground in the hopes that the fabled bunny would lay its colorful eggs on them.
Reaching The American Soil
In the 1700s, a group of Dutch immigrants arrived in Pennsylvania and settled in the state. Perhaps as a way of remembering where they came from or they're just used to their own culture and tradition, the Easter bunny and eggs persisted among the children.
Surprisingly, the Americans became curious and adopted the custom, and before we know it, it took a sweeter turn. They included chocolates and different types of candies and gifts, while nests became decorated baskets.
This story is only in a secular perspective. How did Christians learn to embrace it?
For this, we have to go back to the Bible.
The Bunny, Egg, And Christianity
According to the Bible, Jesus died on the cross, bringing with him all sins of the world. But when he resurrected on the third day, not only did he give his followers hope — he also blessed them with renewal, much like springtime.
Before he ascended into heaven, he instructed his disciples to spread the good news around the world. But the world then might already be following pagan traditions, including the festival of Ostara.
Thus, it's likely that Ostara was depaganized the same way they did with Christmas — that is, keeping some of the memorable traditions and adopting them to fit the ideals of Christianity. Although some experts believe that Easter doesn't have any pagan connection in the first place or that one of the Grimm brothers, Jacob, started the rumor.
In the end, for many, how these Easter bunnies came about doesn't matter much. What does is that Easter egg hunting is fun!
Photo: Jo del Corro | Flickr