Sunday, April 12, 2009
So why is there a bunny hiding eggs and leaving baskets on Easter and what does it have to do with the holiday?
You have to go way back before Christianity and look at the Pagan religions, as with most current Christian holidays, there is something from the Pagan religions of old at Easter.
Many Pagan cultures had Spring festivals to celebrate the renewal of life that comes with the end of Winter. There was a festival in honor of Eostre or Eastre, the goddess of dawn, Spring, and fertility. Both the hare and the egg were symbols of fertility and closely linked to Eastre.
The missionaries that spread Christianity put a variety of Pagan rituals and beliefs within the context of Christian holidays, thereby making it easier to convert them to the new religion. The Eastre festival became the Christian celebration of Christ's resurrection and the two events merged into one. Over time, the hare became a rabbit and as we turned into an industrialized world and chocolate became popular and mass-produced, it worked its way into those gifts from the rabbit. Originally, it was just gifts of eggs, so that's where the eggs come from.
Now there are Easter bunnies throughout most of the world. But not Australia. When rabbits were brought to Australia they multiplied to such a degree that they've become a pest. They've caused massive destruction to habitats and crops and caused a decline in the populations of several native animals. So, as a result, the Aussie's have converted the bunny to a bilby, a vaguely similarly looking marsupial that is on the endangered species list.
So now you know why we have bunnies hiding chocolate filled eggs on Easter. So, do you eat the ears or the tail first?