We’re all familiar with the Easter Bunny. His cute antics and baskets full of eggs are the stuff of legend. Nearly every child has participated in a hunt for his colored eggs, hidden in various inconspicuous locations all over his or her house or yard. The Easter Bunny has long been associated with the night before Easter, and Easter itself. We all know who he is, but where ever did he come from?
In this article, we’ll try to track down this oh-so-fluffy rabbit’s origins, and find out where he started his egg delivery career.
The Earliest Traditions
The tradition of bringing and hiding Easter eggs is said to have begun in Europe, in the Holy Roman empire. The regions of Alsace and Rhineland were supposedly the first to practice Easter egg hunts.
Early in the 17th century, a German paper wrote about this new tradition, effectively creating the first documentation of the practice. Nearly two hundred years later, the idea of making the eggs into a candy (as opposed to hard boiled eggs, which were much less fun) sprang into fruition, and the first edible Easter eggs were made. They were created by forming pastries and sugar into an egg shape, and dying them with the natural colorings that were available at the time.
The Easter Bunny Gets His First Name
In Germany, the Easter bunny got his first name—”Osterhase.” He was originally created as an Easter counterpart to the Kris Kringle of Christmas time. Children would build nests out of household items, and the “Osterhase,” or Easter Bunny, would bring the newly created Easter eggs to them.
Why Is He a Rabbit, And Not a Bird?
The Easter Bunny was created as a rabbit because the pagan symbol of fertility was the rabbit, and spring time was associated with fertility. Eggs were chosen for the same reason, because they were associated with fertility and Spring, and Easter takes place in the Spring.
How Did the Easter Bunny Get His U.S. Citizenship?
Once the Easter egg tradition had spread throughout Europe, the same Germans who had first published the practice in Europe brought it to the United States when they settled in the Dutch territories in Pennsylvania and continued their practice of the tradition.
What About Colored Eggs?
Easter eggs have been created in many different colors, and for many different reasons. The Eastern Orthodox people have always made them red because they feel it best represents the blood of Christ, which is what Easter is all about in the first place. Other people have made them green because they feel it best represents Spring time and the new growth that comes with it.
Whatever you and your friends and family do with Easter and the Easter Bunny, have fun, enjoy the holiday, and be sure to celebrate it for what it really stands for!
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