The Easter bunny, which carries the chocolate eggs, is one of the great symbols of modern Easter, and its origin as an Easter symbol is explained by different theories. Easter, as we all know, remembers the arrest, crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ and celebrates his resurrection. Easter also has, as major symbols, the chocolate egg and the Easter bunny. The association that exists between eggs, rabbits and Easter is strange to many, after all, what does the rabbit have to do with a Christian festival? In this text we will try to clarify some things concerning the history of the Easter bunny.
History of the Easter bunny: In today’s established tradition, especially in countries in the northern hemisphere, the Easter bunny is the one who brings chocolate eggs and hides them so that children can look for them. Thus, it is common during Easter for parents to hide Easter eggs for their children to look for. There are many theories concerning the origin of the Easter bunny, some claim that the association of the rabbit with Easter has pagan origins, while other theories hold that the rabbit, as early as the Middle Ages, already had a direct relationship with Christianity. In fact, at this point in time, it is impossible to support which of the two theories is the correct one, but, in any case, they provide us with elements to think about the subject. First, the consolidation of the rabbit as a symbol of Easter (and the way we celebrate this feast) happened around the 19th century and is directly related to the transformation of the way the western world sees children. From the 17th century on, this was radically changed, and childhood began to be seen as a preparatory moment for adulthood.
This transformation in the way childhood was understood contributed to the custom of celebrating holidays, such as Easter. These celebrations became more homely and family-oriented. In this sense, Easter eggs and the Easter bunny were important symbols that consolidated Easter as a domestic holiday. The practice of decorating the Easter egg and its association with Christian Easter have diverse origins, as we can see in this text. Egg decoration was a practice carried out by Persians during a celebration at the spring equinox (close to the date we celebrate Easter), and the importance of the egg as a symbol of rebirth was present in Chinese culture, for example. In European pagan culture the egg was associated with a goddess from Germanic mythology, and egg decoration was a practice carried out by Slavic peoples in the region of present-day Ukraine. There are stories in Orthodox Christianity that relate eggs to Mary Magdalene, and the act of painting eggs red in Orthodox Christian regions was common. But what about the rabbit? When did the rabbit become associated with eggs and why did it become a symbol of Easter? Regarding the multiple possible origins of the Easter bunny, we have theories that associate it with both Christianity and paganism.
When was the history of the Easter bunny consolidated? The first mention of a rabbit carrying Easter eggs dates back to a Germanic text from 1572. There is another mention of the Easter bunny, in another Germanic text, but this text is from the 17th century. In fact, it is in the 17th century that experts suggest that the story of the Easter bunny as the one who brought the decorated eggs to the good children was consolidated. The tradition of associating the rabbit with Easter eggs was brought from present-day Germany to the United States by immigrants who settled in the Pennsylvania region around the 18th century. The story became popular and became one of the great symbols of modern Easter. In the United States, the Easter bunny became popular only during the Civil War, fought in the 19th century. Chocolate eggs did not appear until the 18th century, through French confectioners, and over time the decorated chicken eggs that were brought by rabbits were replaced by chocolate eggs.