Holiday history: Stories behind the Easter Bunny, eggs

How they became symbols for the Christian holiday

Photo by Leodgario Pescador on Unsplash (Unsplash)

Happy Easter to all who celebrate!

The April holiday is a special day for people of the Christian faith, as they commemorate the resurrection of Christ. Though the worldwide holiday has been around for centuries, some of its most popular traditions have not been.

As you’ve probably guessed, the Easter Bunny doesn’t exactly make an appearance in the Bible.

So, just where do the traditions come from that we so commonly see today, like the Easter Bunny and Easter eggs? Here’s what we’ve found.

Easter Bunny history

Unfortunately, the exact origin of the Easter Bunny is not well known -- but some sources provide a guess at why the creature became such a prominent symbol of the Christian holiday.

History.com editors say that rabbits are an “ancient symbol of fertility and new life,” which may be why the animal became associated with Easter resurrection.

According to the editors, some sources say that the Easter Bunny first came to the U.S. in the 1700s, arriving with German immigrants who settled in Pennsylvania. The immigrants shared their tradition of a fabled egg-laying hare called “Osterhase” or “Oschter Haws,” for which children would make nests where the rabbit would lay its colored eggs.

Sources say the custom then spread across the U.S., where children would receive the Easter bunny’s morning deliveries -- which expanded beyond eggs to include other treats and gifts. The traditional nests were eventually replaced with decorated baskets to hold the gifts.

And, much like children do with Santa Clause’s reindeer, carrots are often left out for the Easter Bunny to help keep him fueled on his gift delivering journey.

Easter eggs

The editors at History.com say that Easter eggs are likely connected to pagan traditions, and egg decorating dates back hundreds of years.

An egg is said to be an “ancient symbol of new life,” and, for Christians, represents Jesus’ resurrection. Eggs were said to be associated with pagan festivals that celebrated the spring season.

Coloring eggs just ahead of Easter celebrations is a tradition that dates back to at least the 13th century, according to History.com. Editors say that eggs were a forbidden food during Lent, and Christians would celebrate Easter by painting and decorating the eggs to then eat on the holiday.

Eggs may not be considered a “forbidden” Lent treat nowadays, but colorful eggs are certainly more fun to make and eat than plain ones!

What’s your favorite Easter tradition? Let us know in the comments below!


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About the Author:

Cassidy Johncox is a senior digital news editor covering stories across the spectrum, with a special focus on politics and community issues.