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Easter History: Origins of the Easter Bunny?

The Easter Bunny has become a main symbol of the Easter holiday in the United States and many other Western countries

Where did it come from?

The hare or rabbit is strongly represented in world mythology and from ancient times has had divine associations

Its elusiveness and unusual behavior particularly at night has reinforced its reputation as a magical creature

The hare was believed to have mystical links to the female cycle and to the moon which governed it

Eggs like rabbits and hares are fertility symbols of antiquity

Since birds lay eggs and rabbits and hares give birth to large litters in the early spring

These became symbols of the rising fertility of the earth at the time of the vernal equinox

or the later Easter holiday tradition

Also in ancient times it was believed that the hare can reproduce without the loss of virginity

It was this belief that led the hare to be associated with the Virgin Mary of the Christian religion

Who gave birth to Jesus as a virgin.

in medieval times

Hares were a popular motif in church art

They appeared in illuminated manuscripts and northern European paintings of the Virgin and Christ child

The first known reference of an Easter rabbit bringing eggs to children was from german professor

george frank von Franken, and his book titled about Easter eggs written in 1682

referencing the local tradition in Germany

German Protestants also continued an old Orthodox Christian tradition of eating colored eggs for the holiday

Orthodox Christians Easter fast for Lent then eat boiled or roasted eggs to break the fast

However the German Protestants did not continue the tradition of fasting and just ate the eggs for celebration of the holiday

German immigrants to the United States in the 18th century brought the idea of an egg giving Easter hare

Protestant Germans in the Pennsylvania Dutch area told their children about the Oosterhouse or Easter Bunny in English

According to the legend only good children receive gifts of colored eggs in the nests that they made in their caps and bonnets

before Easter

This tradition eventually grew to other areas of the United States

And its popularity spread to other Western countries in the years and centuries that followed

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