Easter is the Christian holiday which celebrates Jesus’s resurrection. Many children, however, look forward to enjoying the treats brought to them by the Easter Bunny, coloring eggs, and often enjoying some time off from school as many school’s spring breaks are scheduled around this time.
But where does the Easter Bunny come from? Is there a mention of a bunny in the bible? And what, if any, connection does the Easter Bunny have with Jesus?
The Easter Bunny started to become a staple of Easter imagery when it was first mentioned in a book by Georg Franck von Frankenau in 1680. The book titled “De ovis paschalibus” (About Easter Eggs) references a tradition of an Easter Hare bringing eggs to children.
In the 1800s, German immigrants to the US brought with them the tradition of hunting for Easter eggs which further helped solidify and integrate the Easter Bunny into the holiday, with the bunny being the one responsible for hiding the eggs.
But Why A Rabbit?
Before more was known about biology of hares, it was long believed that they were hermaphrodites. This led to the widespread belief that a hare could reproduce without losing its virginity. Church leaders immediately associated this with the Virgin Mary, who was said to give birth to Jesus without knowing the touch of a man.
The three hares motif is also used by Christians to represent the Holy Trinity. The Holy Trinity represents “One in Three and Three in One” which is often depicted by a triangle or three interlocking shapes.
This motif can be commonly found in English churches and generally appears in a prominent place of the church. Being displayed in such a prominent location suggests that the motif had an important meaning to the religion.
Rabbits and hares were also symbols of fertility for many cultures, going back before the birth of Christianity. This is thanks to their large litters, usually in early spring, which coincides with the Vernal Equinox and Easter. Females have the ability to conceive a second litter of offspring while still pregnant with the first. This is known as superfetation, which is where the saying, “to breed like rabbits” has its origins.
Bonus Easter Facts:
- According to the NCA, Americans purchased 7 billion pounds of candy during the week of Easter last year.
- The largest Easter egg ever made was 25 feet high and was made out of chocolate and marshmallow according to the Guinness Book of World Records. It weighed in at nearly 9,000 pounds (4082 kilograms).
- A game similar to “hot potato” was popular in medieval churches during Easter. A priest would start the game by tossing a hard-boiled egg to some of the children who had gathered around. The children would throw the egg to one another until the clock struck 12. Whoever was holding the egg when the bells chimed was declared the winner and got to keep the egg.
- Every year since 1878, the White House lawn is used for an Easter egg roll which children from all over the country participate.