With Easter decorations already in the stores and the White House opening their lottery for tickets to the 136th annual White House Easter Egg Roll, I thought I’d get into the spirit of things by sharing some history about the Easter Rabbit and showing off some cool rabbit themed jewelry, beads and pendants.
The whole thing about a bunny bringing eggs has never made sense to me. And what in the world does that have to do with the Christian meaning of Easter? It seems even more far fetched than Santa Claus. Here’s what I found out.
Long ago, people noted the links between a woman’s cycles that were linked to birth, and the cycles of the moon. Very old records from Asia indicate that the hare was the symbol of the moon. So it followed that the moon and the hare both became the symbol of birth, rebirth and life after death.
ancient cultures held spring festivals to celebrate the renewal of life and to promote
fertility. One of these festivals, in what is now Northern Europe, was in honor
of Eostre or Eastre, the goddess of dawn, spring and fertility. Her symbol was the rabbit, a most fertile animal and a symbol of new life. Many people think that the modern feast of Easter had its roots in the springtime feasts to honor Eastre.
Later, as Christianity spread, it was common for missionaries to place some of the popular ideas and rituals of the day, within the context of Christian belief. The Eostre festival occurred around the same time as the Christian celebration of Christ’s resurrection, so it would seem only natural that the people would bring the hare and egg images with them to their new faith. Germanic,
pagan, spring traditions and Christian resurrection traditions were quickly
melded together as Roman Catholicism became the dominant religion in the region
around the 15th century.
The first Easter Bunny legend was documented in the 1500s. By 1680, the
first story about a rabbit laying eggs and hiding them in a garden was
published. These legends were brought to the United States in the 1700s, when
German immigrants settled in Pennsylvania Dutch country and brought their tradition of an egg-laying hare called “Osterhase”
or “Oschter Haws.” Their children made nests in which this creature
could lay its colored eggs.
would build their nest in a secluded place in the home, the barn or the garden.
Boys would use their caps and girls their bonnets to make the nests. The use
of elaborate Easter baskets would come later as the
tradition of the Easter bunny spread through out the country.
I hope you’ve found this little bit of history interesting and that you’ve been inspired by the jewelry and components that I’ve included here. I put together a Treasury list on Etsy that includes these rabbits and hares, plus many more. You can check it out by clicking here: “Hop To It!”