Have you ever asked yourself where the Easter Bunny, and the tradition of painting eggs came from? How does it have anything to do with the religious holiday of Easter? I decided to do a little research and share some of the fun facts I found, for you to use to impress family around the Easter dinner table:
- Bunnies, eggs and Easter gifts originally stem from pagan traditions in 13th century Germany.
- The rabbit was used to symbolize the goddess of spring and fertility, Eostra (or Ostara).
- Eggs are an ancient symbol of fertility, and were used around this time of year as spring was considered a time of rebirth and new life.
- Roman Catholicism became the dominant religion in Germany around the 15th century, and at that time, the Christian traditions merged with pagan beliefs, and the egg was made to symbolize Jesus' rebirth.
- During the 1500's, legends about a rabbit laying eggs and hiding them in a garden surfaced, and it was first published as a story in the late 1600's.
- A tradition of making 'nests' for the rabbit to lay these eggs in began, and over time transformed into the use of baskets and exchanging gifts, and using the Easter Bunny as a "judge" to bring gifts to children that had been good.
- These traditions emigrated to North America during the 18th century when German immigrants settled in Pennsylvania.