Where Did the Easter Bunny Come From?
We are all aware that Easter is the Christian celebration centered around of the resurrection of Jesus. However, discussion of chocolate eggs, especially those delicious Cadbury eggs and the cagey bunny who delivers them, is remarkably absent in the scriptures.
The first symbol of a mysterious rabbit (before the chocolate) originates with the festival of Eostre, a pagan tradition. She is the goddess of fertility whose animal symbol was a bunny. Rabbits, known for their energetic breeding, have traditionally symbolized fertility.
Eggs often represent new beginnings and new life. Decorating eggs for Easter dates back to at least the 13th century.
Centuries ago, meat was scarce and expensive for peasants, so many churches had their congregations abstain from eating eggs during Lent, with the prohibition ending on Easter. Thus, the union of eggs and Easter was born.
Decorating eggs appears to have started in the 19th century with Russian high society exchanging lavishly decorated eggs, many jewel encrusted, on Easter. Could this be the birth of the famous Russian Fabergé egg?
Not to get too far off track here, but a little piece of history might interest you. The first Fabergé egg was designed for Tsar Alexander III, who had wanted to give his wife, the Empress Maria Feodorovna, an Easter egg in 1885. It is believed to have been to celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary. It was originally called the Hen Egg, crafted from a foundation of gold.
So when did the so called “Easter Bunny” start delivering eggs to Americans? According to sources, the Easter bunny first arrived in America in the 1700s with German immigrants who settled in Pennsylvania. The bunny was called “Osterhase”. Children would construct nests for it to lay it’s colored eggs and leave carrots out for the bunny in case he got hungry from all his hopping.
Eventually, decorated baskets replaced nests and a tradition was born.