When and Where Did the Easter Bunny Tradition Begin?
Believe it or not, the Easter Bunny isn’t the only odd tradition that takes place during Easter season. On the Saturday before Easter, residents of Greece will throw pots out the window, and on Easter Monday boys in Poland will attempt to get people wet by throwing buckets of water on them.
The Easter Bunny origin, however, can likely be traced back to the pre-Christian Anglo-Saxon era where pagans would worship a deity that took the form of a rabbit: Eostre.
Known as the goddess of springtime or dawn, Eostre (or sometimes seen as Eostra or Eastre) is associated with rabbits, pastels, and springtime celebrations.
In other cultures, such as Ancient Rome and even prior, rabbits were associated with rebirth and new life. Because of this, people would include rabbits on their gravestones.
So how did the Christian holiday get wrapped up in this?
Similar to Christmas and Halloween, Christians attempted to blend elements of pagan religion with Christian tradition, in order to make the message of Christianity more palpable to those of other religions.
So, when a group of monks in the late fourth century went to convert the Anglo-Saxons to Christianity, they mixed together elements of the pagan holiday with their Christian calendar.
As far as the bunny who brings children candy, we see that tradition coming to America through German immigrants. Similar to Halloween, the tradition evolved more into candy-themed festivities for children.
Concerning Easter eggs, cultures throughout history have viewed fertility and bringing of life through eggs. Many statues of fertility goddesses, such as statues of Ishtar from Babylon, are often covered in eggs.
Dyed eggs were likely consumed at spring festivals, which explains why some people dip dye eggs on Easter. It’s reasonable that Christians would’ve seen this egg imagery equated with a symbol of life and incorporated eggs into a holiday celebrating eternal life.
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