There are few traditions as mystifying as the Easter Bunny. For Christians, Easter Sunday marks the day that Jesus Christ was resurrected. So, how exactly did a giant rabbit come to be the symbol of this very religious holiday?
It's a question that many have asked, especially over the past 24 hours. Online lookups for "easter bunny origin" have doubled. Other web searches for "how did the easter bunny originate" and "easter bunny tradition" are also hopping upwards. Fortunately, the Web is full of answers.
According to various sources, including the good people at Mental Floss, the Easter Bunny has a long history as a pagan symbol. Experts believe that early Christians "co-opted" the rabbit as a way to make their own holiday more popular.
The abbreviated history: "Many pagan cultures held spring festivals" hundreds of years ago. One such festival was in celebration of "Eostre, the goddess of dawn." Mental Floss explains that Eostre was "linked to the hare and the egg, both symbols of fertility." As a way to convert the pagans to Christianity, missionaries began turning the festivals into Christian holidays.
It's a story with many similarities to the story of St. Patrick and the four-leaf clovers. According to Catholic.org, "Patrick used a three-leafed shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity to the locals. However, other sites call this story just a myth." The Easter Bunny was another example of Christians using pagan symbols.
As for the modern version of the Easter Bunny -- you know, an enormous rabbit who wears a bow-tie and looks very cute -- he's mostly taken from German traditions that stretch back to the 1500s. Again according to Mental Floss, "The Germans converted the pagan rabbit image into Oschter Haws, a rabbit that was believed to lay a nest of colored eggs as gifts for good children."And that's how we stand today. Not coincidentally, online lookups for "how to hard boil an egg" are through the roof. But something tells us most kids would be far happier to find candy and chocolate in their baskets.