Why Bunnies and Eggs?
The other day at the feed store I was reminded of an old Easter tradition of baby chicks and baby rabbits as Rocking R had a full supply of both - and someone asked me if I'd bought eggs to dye yet.
But I started wondering how we got from Christ arising on the third day after his Crucifixion to chocolate bunnies and colored eggs hidden from us as Easter traditions. (Sorry I used a Playboy bunny for this story, but to get some folks to read you must have an interesting photo to get their attention, lol)
Easter Card c. 1935
While bunnies, eggs and rabbits won't be found in the Bible, many of these traditions have been around for a few centuries now; accurate information is sketchy but we can basically blame the Germans for bringing the tradition of the bunny to American as immigrants during the 17th century. Since many Germans settled in the Pennsylvania area we can presume that area as ground zero for the beginning of the bunny at Easter American tradition. In doing a little research on the origin of the bunny in Germany, I found information is slim.
The basic idea is spring time is when re-birth occurs in nature, flowers bloom, grass grows, etc., and rabbits being extreme pro-creators apparently seemed the best representation of new birth, new growth and so on. Trivia: did you know a mother rabbit can become pregnant even before she delivers the bunny fetuses she's carrying? No wonder there's so many of them.
But what about the eggs? Rabbits don't lay eggs.
Well, as the whole idea of Easter is built around Christ being raised from his human death, eggs are also an ancient symbol of new life. From a Christian perspective, eggs are thought to represent Jesus' emergence from his tomb and resurrection. Some of the research I did seemed to indicate eggs were around at Easter even before the bunny imagery.
As far as decorating the eggs, supposedly at one point eggs were banned during lent, but instead of tossing them - people began to boil them to preserve them to eat after lent, and since they were just sitting around they also began to decorate them.
OK but how did the egg and bunny get together as an Easter ensemble act?
Back to the Germans - in folklore the fertile rabbit came into the Easter picture as the entity that delivered the eggs to good and deserving children. This just kind of appeared over time and according to some of what I read is connected to the Lutheran church's early Easter celebrations. Yes, just as at Christmas good children were rewarded, so too at Easter good children received eggs, which the bunny sometimes playfully hid around the garden and other areas of the house to make it a game for the kids to find.
So there, in case you were wondering why there are so many bunnies and eggs at Easter there you go. Two hours of research condensed into a few paragraphs.
All the other traditions, egg rolling contests, 'pocking' games with the eggs, chocolate bunnies and chocolate eggs and so on, just kind of developed along the way.
Happy Easter - He is Risen!