Easter Bunny History

As children look forward to a visit from the Easter Bunny, it's interesting to learn a little Easter bunny history about how this legendary rabbit first got its start and how it has evolved into today's beloved character.

Long a symbol of spring as well as fertility, the rabbit was first a part of early Anglo-Saxon pagan mythology. As one of the most fertile animals, the rabbit was the perfect creature to represent new life and rebirth. It was also the animal representative of a Northern European fertility goddess. When early Christian converts continued to celebrate their spring rituals, the story of the rabbit, which represented replenishment, renewal, birth and new life, merged with the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

German writings from the 1500s mention the rabbit as an Easter symbol, and German immigrants brought the tradition of edible rabbits with them to America. The first Easter bunnies were made of pastries, with chocolate bunnies not making an appearance until the 1800s. In the eighteenth century, German immigrants to the Pennsylvania Dutch area told tales about an egg-laying bunny to their children.

According to the early legends, the Easter bunny would visit good children and lay colored eggs for them in nests that the children would make out of their hats. As the story of the Easter bunny spread throughout the country, Easter baskets became the tradition. The bunny would also expand its edible Easter gifts to children as the decades went by, with candies, chocolates and even small toys becoming popular deliveries.

The Easter bunny is closely associated with eggs, another early fertility and rebirth symbol used from ancient times. Also, eggs were plentiful in nature during the spring, so they were a perfect item to pair with the celebrations of the end of winter and the beginning of warmth, flowers and new baby animals. Today, the Easter bunny and its eggs remind children and adults everywhere that a new season is starting, and the cold gray days are over.

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