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Why the Easter Bunny?

Published August 17, 2007        by Nicole

Have you ever wondered how the rabbit was associated with Easter? Next to Santa Claus, the second most popular figure adored by children is the Easter Bunny, another of childhood's greatest pleasures. But why an "Easter Bunny?"

Although the Easter Bunny is a major symbol used in advertising Easter, the Easter Bunny is certainly not a modern invention of commercialization.

Historically, the rabbit, hare, and eggs in folklore have their basis as pagan fertility symbols, signifying spring and new life, and the worship of the goddess Oestre or Eastre.

Easter is named for a Saxon goddess who was known by the names of Oestre or Eastre, and in Germany by the name of Ostara. She was believed to be the goddess of the dawn and the spring, and a fertility goddess.

The Goddess Ostara, it is believed, saved the life of a bird whose wings had been frozen by the snow and she made him her pet. She had compassion for him since he could no longer fly and turned him into a snow hare and named him Lepus. Goddess Ostara gave him the ability to run with incredible speed to protect himself from hunters, and also gave him the ability to lay eggs one day out of each year.

Eventually Lepus managed to anger the goddess Ostara, and she cast him into the skies where he would remain as the constellation Lepus (The Hare). He was allowed to return to earth once a year to give away his eggs to the children attending the Ostara festivals that were held each spring.

The bunny as an Easter symbol also has its origins in Germany, where it was first mentioned in German writings in the 1500's. The Easter Bunny was introduced to America by the German settlers in 1700 when they brought with them the legend of "Oschter Haws", the white Easter Hare.

Believing that if they were good, children believed that Oschter Haws would lay colorful eggs for them in a nest the children had provided, usually their hat or bonnet placed in a barn.

By the 19th Century, the Easter Hare became the Easter Rabbit. American families would later adapt the nest tradition, using baskets, chocolate, and money. However Easter itself was not widely celebrated until after the Civil War.

"Here comes Peter Cottontail

Hoppin' down the bunny trail,

Hippity hoppity,

Easter's on its way."

Our little furry friend, the Easter Bunny, will soon be on it's way! Celebrate Easter on this year. And be sure to check out our cheerful and charming selection of Easter gift baskets! A perfect way to send Easter greetings across the miles to family, friends and loved ones.