Easter is one of the most important of Christian festivals that is celebrated to commemorate the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Easter is celebrated to bring to an end the 40 days of fasting and abstinence that people practice during the Lenten season. The festival of Easter coincides with the arrival of spring season; the colourful season in the world. Easter is filled with various symbols and motifs, many of which have been inspired by pagan beliefs and customs that people practiced before the advent of Christianity.
One such Easter tradition is that of the Easter hare of rabbit. The Easter rabbit or Easter bunny is a very integral part of the Easter festivities, and one cannot imagine Easter celebrations without the Easter bunny. Small children eagerly wait for the Easter bunny on the Easter eve to bring them gifts and goodies.
People start decorating their house with Easter bunny posters to get into the festive mood. People believe that rabbits are the fertility symbol on the earth and served as symbol of the new life during the spring season. This little bunny has a lot of importance on the Easter day, but many people are unaware of the actual history of the Easter bunny. It is very important to understand the history of Easter bunny, so that you can get a better understanding of this great festival.
The ancient pagan customs and traditions are the roots from where the origin of Easter bunny came to the existence. The pagans considered rabbits or hares as the symbol of fertility as the rabbits can give birth to the multiple offspring at a time. As they are fertile animals, rabbits became the rising fertility symbol in these ancient cultures. Ancient cultures celebrated the coming of spring at the Vernal Equinox. Many cultures had various gods and goddesses of fertility who they would worship at the onset of spring for a better harvest. These gods and goddesses would be given offerings of grain and seedlings in anticipation of a good crop.
The rabbit or bunny character is revered around the world in different cultures and traditions. Many Asian cultures call the rabbit as a sacred messenger to the divine. The Buddhists and Egyptians have created special meaning for the bunny. Western Europe believes rabbit as a symbol of fertility and new life.
One of the Saxon goddesses, Eostre who was the goddess of fertility was symbolized by the hare or rabbit. It is also said that the Goddess Eostre – the most worshiped Pagan deity had once retrieved a wounded bird which was dying due to the chilly winter in a snowy forest .The goddess made her survive in the snowy forest by converting the bird into a hare. As the bird was converted into a hare, it started laying eggs. To show its gratitude to Eostre, the rabbit started decorating its eggs and offered these eggs to the goddess every spring season. This is the legend of how rabbits came into the existence. This legend gave rise to the pagan custom of decorating eggs and using the hare or rabbit as a symbol of Eostre during the spring festival of Eostre.
The Easter rabbit was a tradition followed in Germany, where people said that the Easter hare would lay eggs for children who had been good through the year. In the early 1500s the Easter bunny symbol was first mentioned in German writings. The first edible Easter bunnies were made in Germany during the early 1800s where the chocolate bunnies were first made and distributed among the people. The chocolate Easter bunnies were made up of confectionery material, sugar and pastries.
The Easter Rabbit was introduced to America by the German settlers in the early 1700’s. It was only in the late 1800’s that Easter started gaining popularity in America as a popular festival.
There are different traditions that are followed about Easter Bunny and still continued till today. Easter bunny has a tremendous importance for beginning the new life in today’s world.