Home Lifestyle Where does the Easter Bunny come from? Origins of the holiday mascot

Where does the Easter Bunny come from? Origins of the holiday mascot


So, when did the famous rabbit first hop into our Easter traditions? (Picture: Getty)

Easter, and the lead-up of Holy Week, is a special time, whether you’re religious or not.

Christians reflect on the crucifixion of Jesus Christ on Good Friday and celebrate his resurrection on Easter Sunday, which is why there are symbols of crosses (hot cross buns) and new life (eggs, chicks and lambs) associated with the holiday.

For the less religious, it’s a time to celebrate with a UK bank holiday – plus plenty of chocolate, treats, Easter egg hunts and for little ones: symbols of the Easter Bunny.

Though it’s clear to see where the story of Jesus started, the Bible makes no mention of a mythical rabbit delivering sweet, chocolate eggs.

So, when did the Easter Bunny start to become synonymous with Easter?

Where did the Easter Bunny come from?

One theory, according to Time magazine, is that the symbol of the rabbit stems from the ancient Pagan tradition believed to have started the celebration of Easter – the festival of Eostre.

Many Christian traditions have foundations in Pagan holidays, including Christmas itself.

Eostre was thought to honour the goddess of fertility and spring.

The goddess’s animal symbol was a rabbit, which have long traditionally represented fertility due to their high reproduction rates. Ergo the Easter Bunny was born.

The tradition could date back to a Pagan festival (Picture: Getty)

However, others ascribe the origin of the Easter Bunny to traditions brought over to the United States of America by immigrant ancestors that evolved over time.

History.com suggests that it was first introduced in the 1700s by German immigrants in Pennsylvania, who reportedly brought over their tradition of an egg-laying hare named Osterhase or Oschter Haws.

This rabbit would lay colourful eggs as gifts to children who were well-behaved (Santa to keep them behaved in winter; Osterhase to keep them good in the spring.)

Eventually, the custom spread across the US to become a widespread Easter tradition – and over time, chocolates and other gifts became part of what would be given to well-behaved children.

Why do we eat chocolate eggs at Easter?

The reason the Bunny traditionally gives out eggs from a basket is thought to date back to the Pennsylvania Dutch in the 1700s. They believed in an egg-laying hare called the ‘Osterhase’ or ‘Oschter Haws.’

Their children would build nests in which the hare could lay its coloured eggs.

Eventually, chocolate treats would replace the coloured eggs and decorated baskets would replace the nests.

Why do we eat chocolate eggs at Easter? (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

As for all the eggs, that tradition has its roots in Paganism too – another symbol of new life, eggs appeared in pagan festivals celebrating spring.

For Christians, the egg symbolises the moment Jesus emerged from the tomb following his resurrection.

As for why they’re chocolate, well, why not?

Try this adorable hot cross bunnies recipe for Easter

MORE : When should you give Easter eggs and why do we give them?

MORE : Can I wash my clothes on Good Friday? Other traditions and superstitions explained

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