WTF Fun Fact 13317 – The History of the Easter Bunny

The Easter Bunny is a beloved symbol of Easter. But where did this tradition come from? Well, the history of bunnies (or hares) symbolizing spring religious observances can be traced back to pre-Christian times. Ancient civilizations celebrated the spring equinox and the return of fertility and new life and hares played a central role. Of course, that’s not the same as the history of the Easter Bunny.

The importance of the hare

According to Smithsonian Magazine (cited below), the hare was a symbol of new life in ancient Egypt and was associated with the goddess of fertility and motherhood, Eostre. But it may have dated back even further. As the note:

“In European traditions, the Easter bunny is known as the Easter hare. The symbolism of the hare has had many tantalizing ritual and religious roles down through the years.
Hares were given ritual burials alongside humans during the Neolithic age in Europe. Archaeologists have interpreted this as a religious ritual, with hares representing rebirth.
Over a thousand years later, during the Iron Age, ritual burials for hares were common, and in 51 B.C.E., Julius Caesar mentioned that in Britain, hares were not eaten due to their religious significance.”

The veneration of hares is practically prehistoric!

The history of the Easter Bunny

The Easter Bunny as we know it today is thought to have originated in Germany in the 16th century. The first recorded mention of the Easter Bunny was in a book by Georg Franck von Franckenau. He was a physician in Frankfurt who wrote about the Easter Hare bringing eggs for children to find.

During the 17th and 18th centuries, German immigrants brought the Easter Bunny tradition to the United States. The first edible Easter bunnies, made of pastry and sugar, were produced in Germany during the early 19th century. After that, the tradition of giving chocolate bunnies as Easter gifts spread throughout Europe and North America.

Today, the Easter Bunny is a central part of many Easter celebrations. In many countries, people still hold Easter egg hunts where children search for colored eggs that have been hidden around a park or other public space.

The tradition of the Easter Bunny continues to be a fun and beloved part of Easter celebrations around the world.

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Source: “The Ancient Origins of the Easter Bunny” — Smithsonian Magazine

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