Why all of the ‘bunny’ and ‘egg’ symbology at Easter?
Everywhere you look this Easter, you will see a range of traditions taking place, people enjoying some time off, and of course, all of us eating too much chocolate.
I was personally given a chocolate Easter Bunny, as I’m sure many of you reading this did as well.
It got me thinking: Why on earth do we spend an entire weekend consuming chocolate eggs from a bunny?
I mean, most people are vaguely aware of the religious significance behind the dates, but how did chocolate and bunnies become the dominant theme for Easter in the Western world?
How did we end up making children believe in a mystical creature that comes once a year specifically to leave treats?
Like most of our holiday celebrations, what are the origins of this folklore story that overshadowed tales of Christ?
In the following piece, we will take a look at just where these concepts came from and their developments.
Where did the ‘Easter Bunny’ come from?
This was my most pressing question when glancing at my piece of chocolate.
The Bible makes no mention of a long-eared, short-tailed creature who delivers decorated eggs to well-behaved children on Easter Sunday. Nevertheless, the Easter bunny has become a prominent symbol of Christianity’s most important holiday.
How did this come to be?
Well, first of all, the official origins state it isn’t actually a ‘bunny’ (rabbit) at all.
It is actually a hare, which comes from the same family species as rabbits called ‘leporidae’.
According to the official story, the Easter Bunny first originated in the 1700s in Germany, who transported their tradition of an egg-laying hare called ‘Osterhase’ or ‘Oschter Haws’ to the Western world.
In this unique tradition, children made nests in which this creature could lay its coloured eggs.
Additionally, children often left out carrots for the hare in case he got hungry ‘from all his hopping’.
Eventually, the imported custom spread across the United States, turned to a fabled rabbit, and soon became Easter morning deliveries that included chocolates and other types of candies and gifts. All while decorated baskets replaced nests.
Consumeristic America capitalised on this unique German tradition and incorporated it into mainstream culture.
Of course, the 1700s are long after the events of the crucifixion and resurrection, and it is still unclear why a hare was selected.
In ‘ancient times’, it was believed that the hare was actually a hermaphrodite:
As such, the idea that a hare could reproduce without loss of virginity led to an association with the Virgin Mary.
Pretty sure Mary was “immaculately” touched by God, not by… well, herself. Or is it their self?
But this is the only explanation that can be found as to why a hare was chosen as the symbol of Easter specifically.
I’m surprised the Easter Bunny isn’t a symbol of woke culture in 2023.
Outside of Easter, we find an ‘ancient’ association of this animal and “the three hares” symbol — found in sacred sites from East Asia, the Middle East and to the churches of Devon, England (as the ‘Tinners’ Rabbits”), and historical synagogues in Europe.
Many of these sites were formed in pre-Christian Pagan times, and the earliest occurrences of this symbol appear to be in cave temples in China, dated to the Sui dynasty of the 700s.
Of course, given the History Hoax, we can’t be sure how accurate the information is, but that is the official story.
But here’s the thing:
It is “presumed” to be associated with the Trinity, but no sources exist to state as to why the hares are significant from historical perspectives.
They also believe medieval cultures (Pagans) used the hare to trace lunar cycles and for fertility rituals. Then, these mystical hares somehow made their way into the Easter tradition, brought to the Americas by Lutheran Germans 1,700 years after Christ.
A very interesting story that makes me question the light-hearted nature of the ‘Easter Bunny’, that’s for sure.
Another interesting fact is that the hare was originally seen as a judge:
It seems like Santa has to pick up most of these shifts now, as the hare now just brings chocolate with no attachment.
Let’s not forget the old saying “As mad as a March Hare”, most familiar from Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
So, that’s the ‘Easter Bunny’ for you..
Let’s now move on to the ‘gifts’ that he (or her?) delivers to children as part of the tradition.
The concept of eggs on Easter dates further back then a hermaphrodite hare that delivers them to children.
Since when did hares lay eggs, anyway? I mean, come on.
In this story, there is more of an explanation as to why eggs are used, unlike hares, but questions surrounding the origins.
From a Christian perspective, Easter eggs were said to originally represent Jesus’ emergence from the tomb and resurrection.
As such, Easter eggs symbolise the tomb of Jesus, from which he was resurrected.
One tradition that has slipped away is the staining of Easter eggs — actual eggs, not chocolate ones — with the colour red “in memory of the blood of Christ, shed as at that time of his crucifixion.”
But why eggs in the first place? There are plenty of other foods that look like tombs?
Well, eggs are among the foods forbidden during Lenten sacrifice fast days, an observance which continues among the Eastern Christian Churches, but has fallen into disuse in Western Christianity.
The tradition of Lent has its roots in Jesus praying and fasting for forty days in the desert.
When Lent is over and Easter Sunday arrives, the faithful are able to indulge in what they sacrificed during the Lenten season.
The story goes: Because of a lack of crops amidst harsh seasonal conditions in the 1300s, chickens were life savers as they would begin to lay eggs around Easter, allowing individuals to enjoy them after having abstained from food during the days of Lent.
As such, this is how eggs came to be associated with this tradition. Because they were available at the time.
This is the official story of the incorporation of eggs into Christian traditions. A story of chance.
But there is also another story that dominates the public discourse.
Some of the customs surrounding Easter, such as eggs, are also said to be more likely linked to Pagan celebrations
The egg, an ancient symbol of new life, has long been associated with pre-Christian festivals surrounding the vernal equinox.
Put simply, the spring equinox set off a time of “life”, while the flip-side equinox set off a time of “death” (and thus contributed to the formation of Halloween, another imported holiday with Pagan origins).
The folk custom of Easter eggs among the continental Germanic peoples stemmed from springtime festivities of a Germanic goddess known as Ēostre (modern English: ‘Easter’), and possibly known in Old High German as Ostara:
This goddess is often seen with a hare at her side, giving more credence to the notion that the Easter Bunny — which itself came from Germany — is also linked to these Pagan ritualistic traditions.
As Fiona Haser Bizony noted: “The origins of the bunny date back to a pagan festival which celebrated Eostre, a great northern goddess whose symbol was a hare. The festivals of our ancestors, that were celebrated for millennia without written notes, were cleverly incorporated, firstly into the Roman calendar and then into Christian doctrine.“
The concept of a hermaphrodite hare would also align with the gender fluid descriptions of many non-Christian deities.
So, which story do you believe?
The Christians who say eggs popped up when their fasting ended one year, so they started to paint them. Or a deep tradition of eggs being associated with fertility and cycles in non-Christian ideologies?
You be the judge in regards to eggs on Easter.
Given the incorporation and acceptance of the hare into this tradition, I would tend to sway more towards the notion that these symbols are indeed manifestations of pre-Christian origins, brought to the Americas to be expanded.
Let’s not forget that ‘America’ itself was actually founded with the help of Freemasons during the revolution.
Would it be any surprise that Paganistic concepts would be allowed to become the dominant theme of a Christian tradition?
Either way, the modern custom has become to substitute painted eggs with chocolate eggs, to be eaten. Or even plastic eggs filled with sweets like jelly beans. From what once represented the tomb of Jesus, possibly adopted from Pagans, is a treat to be eaten.
The more you know, ladies and gentlemen.
So, outside of themes of ‘bunnies’ or ‘eggs’, just how was Easter once celebrated in its true form in the West?
Of course, Easter spans long before the introduction of a ‘bunny’ in the 1700s or the eggs during a crop crisis in the 1300s.
What did Easter once look like for most people?
Well, it was much more grand and significant than chocolates and consumerism, let me tell you.
Originally, Easter was an entire season of festivities, known as Eastertide, said to be adopted from Persian Nowruz tradition into the early Christians of Mesopotamia.
Back then, and in small extents today in Eastern Christian sects, Easter time was celebrated as a period of 40 or 50 days, spanning from Easter Sunday to Pentecost Sunday or Whitsunday.
Each Sunday of the season is treated as a Sunday of Easter.
But this doesn’t mean fifty consecutive Easter egg hunts, or fifty new Easter dresses, or fifty ham dinners in a row.
Celebrating Easter for fifty days is not duplicating Easter Sunday fifty times over, rather, it’s taking time to reflect upon and delight in the truth of Easter and its implications for our lives. For eight weeks straight.
For example, the solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord is celebrated on the 40th day of Eastertide.
The nine days from that feast until the Saturday before Pentecost (inclusive) are days of preparation for the Holy Spirit the Paraclete, which inspired the form of prayer called a novena.
Chocolate is also the furthest thing from eaten.
The concept of Lent emerged shortly following the Council of Nicea in 325 AD.
Historically, lamb would have been one of the first fresh meats available after a long winter with no livestock to slaughter.
In the bible, Israelites also painted their doorposts with sacrificed lamb’s blood so that God would “pass over” their homes.
Thus, lamb became the traditional feast believers would eat in celebration of their own sacrifices.
Instead of eggs, White Easter Lilies symbolised the purity of Christ to Christians and were common decorations in churches and homes around the Easter holiday.
Their growth from dormant bulbs in the ground to flowers symbolises the rebirth and hope of Christ’s resurrection.
Not the Paganistic or revisionist Catholic perspectives of eggs to symbolise this.
How did all of this become about chocolates, fertility, lunar cycles and consumerism?
Some Christians have written about how this magnitude has been lost, even in modern churches.
In fact, barely any Westerners practice this tradition anymore (or even know about it), and it is fading in the East.
Specifically, that Easter may indeed be a more significant time of the year than even Christmas.
Now, we just eat chocolate eggs given to us by a hermaphrodite hare?
Very interesting to see how these ritualistic holidays are celebrated today, as opposed to ‘back in the day’.
It is always good and healthy to stop and explore where concepts come from.
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