Easter Bunny is Explained by Going Back to his Pagan Roots
The Easter Bunny leaves baskets of treats, including colored eggs and chocolate rabbits, for children on the holiday. His origin is in Pagan traditions.
Christians celebrate Easter Sunday as the day that Jesus was resurrected. This is the Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox, the first day of spring. The Pagan holiday called Ostara and Eostre, dedicated in honor of this Goddess of Dawn, symbolizing the east and morning, welcomed spring. When early Christian missionaries tried to convert the Pagans, they adopted the country dwellers’ traditions to facilitate their efforts.
Some Easter Traditions Roots are in Ostara
The Ostara Celebration and Feast Welcomed Spring. The festival’s symbols include rabbits, eggs, violets, jonquils, crocuses, lilies, tulips, daffodils, dogwood, irises, honeysuckles, hyacinths and strawberries. The Ostara Pagan Spring Celebration Feast featured traditional foods: eggs, lamb, ham, salad greens, asparagus and other early ripening vegetables and strawberries.
There are Christian Pagans and witches, as well as Messianic Jews, who consider themselves Jewish; however, they believe that Yeshua of Nazareth, Jesus, is the Messiah written about in the Old Testament. They adhere to the practices and beliefs of the early Christian Church.
Ostara, day of the vernal equinox, is the Pagan festival welcoming spring. Easter is the Christian celebration of Jesus’ resurrection. In 2008, Easter and Ostara were two days apart. A question arose concerning Ostara/Easter Celebrations: can both holidays be combined into one event? The answer depends on one’s individual beliefs.
Modern Easter Bunny’s Roots also in German Traditions
The modern version of the holiday rabbit is primarily from German traditions dating back to the 1500s when the country was part of the Holy Roman Empire. The Germans adapted the Pagan rabbit, renaming him Oschter Haws, a bunny who was believed to lay colored eggs in a nest as Easter presents for good children.
Pennsylvania Dutch settlers, German and Swiss people from the Palatine region who immigrated to the New World during the late 1600s and early 1800s, brought Oschter Haws to the Colonies. At some point in time, the creature added chocolate bunnies and other treats to his basket of goodies.
When the Easter Bunny went to Australia with settlers, so did rabbits, which aren’t native to the continent. After Englishman Thomas Austin, an avid hunter, moved to Victoria, he asked his nephew to send him rabbits and hares, so he could set the animals free and hunt them for sport. These animals’ descendants destroyed Australia’s habitat because they had no predators. Damages included the decline of some native fauna and flora and cost millions of dollars due to loss of crops.
According to Soniak, Australia replaced the Easter Bunny with the Easter Bilby, an endangered marsupial that looks like a bunny if a person squints at it, because of the environmental Soniak damages rabbits caused.
Modern Easter Bunny isn’t the Pagan Ostara Rabbit
To the Pagans, rabbits and eggs were fertility symbols. Ostara was celebrated as the of beginning of spring, the season of renewed growth when seeds were planted and animals gave birth. It was a joyous celebration of abundance that would come into fruition and be harvested in Lughnasadh, the festival of the first harvest in August.
The modern Easter Bunny, unlike Oschter Haws, doesn’t lay colored eggs. Before Easter Sunday, he sits in department stores, garbed in men’s clothing and, usually, sporting a bow tie. WPMT news’ website shows photos of children who are afraid of the critter. I can relate to little ones who are scared by him because I was one of them.
When I was a child, I was afraid of ghosts and witches, but adults told me they didn’t exist. When I was eleven, I bought my first parapsychology book and discovered that ghosts did exist. Soon, I researched witches. They existed too. In the course of doing research, I was fascinated by the fact that most modern holiday and other celebrations are based on Pagan traditions. So it is with the Easter Bunny.