Where Does the Easter Bunny Come From?

The Short Answer: The Easter Bunny likely originated in modern Germany (then known as the Holy Roman Empire).  As Germans immigrated to the United States and other countries, the legend of the Easter Bunny traveled with them.

Some History: The largest debate over the Easter Bunny’s origin is whether or not its legend began with pagans or with Christians.  Some believe the bunny originated with pagan fertility gods and rituals.  This makes sense because, well, there is a reason people say, “breed like rabbits”.  Perhaps just as Saturnalia was replaced with Christmas traditions, the fertility festivals were replaced by Easter festivals.  And because traditions don’t change overnight, it is likely the Easter Bunny was just “repackaged” and gained some of the characteristics of Santa Claus.

What’s Up With the Eggs?: Rabbits don’t lay eggs, so why does the Easter Bunny carry them in a basket?  Like rabbits, eggs have been symbolic of fertility and would have fit in with any pagan fertility rituals.  Christians also celebrated Easter with eggs.  During Lent, eating eggs (and many other meat products) was forbidden on Fridays.  Instead, people would boil their eggs to save them for later.  Since the Easter bunny was already visiting children, it made since for him to drop a few of those eggs off as they would have been seen as a treat.  As for coloring eggs, there is also a debate about why people do it.  The most likely reasons are that it was simply a fun part of festivals or that Christians originally dyed the eggs red to represent Christ’s resurrection.

Know the origin of any other Easter traditions or have any different theories about the Easter Bunny's origin? Please share in the comments section.

Thanks for reading!

Photo credit: The photo in this post was uploaded from Wikimedia.
By Gerbil (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons

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