Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

Easter Bunny

Easter Bunny is a symbolic rabbit, usually in depictions, used in the celebrations of Easter.

Pre-Christian origin

Both Easter and Easter Bunny originated from the pre-Christian goddess, Eostre, who was sometimes depicted with a hare's head. Her associations with the hare seem to be related to its high fecundity (ability to reproduce quickly). Her connections with the hare would appear to be the origin of the Easter Bunny, eggs being a worldwide symbol of fertility. A story is told that the goddess turned her pet bird into a rabbit to entertain some children. The rabbit immediately laid some brightly colored eggs, which the goddess gave to the children.

Modern history

The idea of an egg laying rabbit came to the United States in the 1700s. German immigrants in the Pennsylvania Dutch area told their children about the "Oserhase" (also: "Oschter Haws") or Easter Bunny. Only the good children received gifts of coloured eggs in the nests that they had made in their caps and bonnets before Easter. Presumably, the Oschter Haws laid them when they were not looking.

In the United States, the Easter Bunny purportedly leaves baskets of treats (inlcuding Easter eggs and assorted chocolates) on Easter morning for good children. This is a common practice even in non-Christian households, as Easter has started to become a more non-sectarian festival, like Halloween or Valentine's Day.

In Australia, where rabbits have been an environmental disaster and are in consequence not popular, there have been attempts to replace the Easter Bunny with the Easter Bilby.