Reflection: THIS Is Why We Associate A Bunny With Easter
So what's the deal with this rabbit and his colorful eggs?
The Medieval Hare
Rabbits were a popular symbol in Medieval times because it was widely believed they could reproduce without the loss of virginity. While this of course is not true, they came to represent a symbol of fertility and were associated with the Virgin Mary.
The Three Hares Motif
This circular symbol with three rabbits chasing each other can be found throughout churches in Europe. It's widely believed to be a symbol of the Holy Trinity, as a representation of the "One in Three and Three in One." Though it's exact meaning isn't entirely clear because it appears in such diverse locations, it could be one of the symbols that helped to foster the creation of the Easter bunny.
A symbol of the arrival of spring
Rabbits are prolific breeders and often have a litter in the spring and many kinds of birds also lay eggs in the spring. Do you see where this is going? Because these two things happen around the same time of year, they've become a symbol of fertility and paired up together to symbolize the arrival of springtime.
So what about those colorful eggs?
It's a custom for Orthodox churches to abstain from eggs during the fast of Lent. The were usually boiled to avoid going bad and then painted with decorative colors to mark the breaking of the fasting period. It's customary for many practicing Christians in the Eastern Orthodox Church to dye their eggs red as a symbol of the blood of Christ.
Good kids get Easter baskets, bad kids get zilch
The concept of an Easter bunny who leaves colorful baskets full of treats for kids originated among the German Lutherans. Much like Santa Claus, he was seen as a judge of good and bad behavior in children. The children who were well-behaved at the beginning of spring were rewarded with treats and the bad kids, well, they woke up to a big ol' basket of nothing.
The Easter egg hunt
Easter egg hunts didn't make their way over to the United States until the 18th century when German immigrants brought the tradition with them. They didn't really start to take off though until the 19th century when Jakob Grimm of Grimm's Fairy Tales wrote about a magical goddess.
Dating back to pre-Christianity Europe, the story goes that on a winter's day Ostara was walking through a forest and found a bird dying in snow from hunger. The goddess turned the bird into a rabbit because they have a warm fur and are better equipped for winter's survival. The rabbit lived and came spring began to lay eggs as it did when it was once a bird. The rabbit then decorated every egg leaving it to Ostara as a sign of it's thanks. And just like that Jakob Grimm jump-started the Easter bunny's repuptation.
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