What do bunnies, eggs have in common with Jesus? Frankly, not much, but regardless they are still almost, if not more ingrained with Easter than Christ himself.
For over 2000 years, people around the world have celebrated the death and rebirth of Christ, but somehow along the way, bunnies that deliver painted eggs have become almost synonymous with Easter. Rabbits certainly don’t lay eggs as far as we know, so how did their association with Easter come to be?
For most of the world, Easter is celebrated in Spring in-line with the seasons of the Northern Hemisphere, this is a time of rebirth and growth, so it is no surprise that a holiday about rebirth during Springtime would have a lot of symbols of renewal. Rabbits are, after all, known for their fertility and very large litters. It is thought by some that the hare and eggs date back to pagan times as a symbol of the Saxon (German) goddess of Spring, the dawn and fertility, Ēostre, in fact, in old Germanic, the time of the Spring Equinox was called “Ōstarmānod”. In Pre-Christian times, Ēostre was celebrated and commemorated on the Spring Equinox which Easter is celebrated just after. Most of our traditions from Easter actually stem from pagan celebrations from around this time of celebration of Ēostre.
The Easter Bunny or "Osterhase" in German is believed to have originated in Germany as far back as before Christianity. In more modern times, however, it was tradition for German Lutherans to tell their children stories of a hare the would come door to door and judge whether a child was good or naughty (similar to Santa Claus). These stories were popularized during the 19th Century as more Protestant Germans emigrated to the U.S. particularly Pennsylvania.
Lladró’s Bunnies with Flowers Figurines combine all the hallmarks of Easter and spring in a generously adorned collection of bunnies with handmade flowers ranging from vibrant red to Lladró’s signature pastel greens, yellows, blues and purples. Read more about how Lladró creates its signature pastels.
Eggs are a symbol of Lent, a ritual marking the period of time of Christ’s sacrifice and withdrawal into the desert for 40 days. This is a period of strict fasting with certain animal products being prohibited such as eggs.
You might be wondering, “Why do we send our kids to dig up our backyard for eggs then?” Interestingly, this tradition can be traced back to medieval England, where parents would send their children door to door to beg for eggs before the start of Lent. They would then save these eggs for celebration meals and to decorate for when the fasting finally came to an end and they could eat animal products again. To this day, in the Eastern Orthodox Church, eggs are dyed red to represent the blood of Christ and in other parts of Europe such as Austria, they tend to decorate their eggs with flora and fauna, using nature as a significant source of inspiration. The modern tradition of giving chocolate eggs grew out of the invention of mouldable chocolate in the 19th Century in Europe.
Eggs have been a symbol of fertility and rebirth since ancient times. Before the Christianisation of Europe, people would celebrate the Spring Equinox and again, the goddess Ēostre by decorating eggs with the colours of spring. Since as early as the 1st Century AD, eggs have been affiliated with Easter as a symbol of Jesus’s rebirth. The Catholic Church believed the way a hatchling breaks out of its shell almost mirrors how Jesus exited the cave on Easter Sunday.
A fluffy bunny that hides delicious chocolate eggs around your house which make you slightly sick after three too many are staples of spring and Easter. You may choose to celebrate the rebirth of Christ or you may choose to get in touch with your pagan side and honour Ēostre and the Equinox. Whatever the case, Spring is a time of growth, change and new beginnings and the Easter Bunny is very much an iconic part of it.
Read our other articles about Easter: