Much like Santa Claus with Christmas, the combination of Easter with the Easter Bunny seems, at first, a little unusual. It certainly appears a bit puzzling why a holiday that began as a sacred religious observance, and still holds that place for many people, would have a mascot like the Easter bunny. There are also other unusual holiday traditions such as Easter eggs. After all, rabbits do not lay eggs. So how did the Easter bunny and Easter eggs originate?
As with many other traditions that coincide with Christian holiday, the answer dates back to pre-Christian, pagan celebrations. In this case, the Anglo-Saxons had a fertility celebration in the spring, to promote rebirth. The goddess of fertility for the Anglo-Saxons was named Eastre (or, perhaps, Eostra). The symbol of Eastre was the rabbit because they were the most fertile animals known.
As early Christians tried to convert pagans, they found it much easier to hold their celebrations simultaneous to pagan holidays. Christians already celebrated the resurrection of Jesus Christ in the spring near the time of the Eastre fertility festival, so a Christian holiday that overlapped the pagan festival began. Once Christianity became the dominant religion, the name Eastre was kept and changed slightly to Easter. Most of the other pagan qualities of the holiday were dropped, although the element of rebirth was common to both celebrations.
Even though the symbol of Eastre was the rabbit, the Easter bunny was not a fundamental part of early celebrations of Easter. It is believed that it was the Germans who popularized the notion of an Easter rabbit, perhaps as early as the 15th or 16th century. The idea spread to America with some of the first German settlers, likely in Pennsylvania. Gradually, the notion of the Easter bunny became so popular, both with America and the world, that it became the dominant secular symbol of Easter.
Much like how the Easter bunny was an adaptation of the early fertility symbol of the rabbit, the modern Easter egg was also a development on an ancient notion. Eggs have long been symbols of Earthly fertility due to the obvious connection with birth and our Sterling Silver Egg Shaped locket makes a fine gift for a new couple.
The Germans who popularized the Easter bunny myth also told their children tales of an Easter rabbit leaving colorful eggs. Since the children needed a place for the Easter bunny to leave the eggs, this also resulted in the beginning of another familiar tradition – the Easter basket. Consider buying a silver baby gift for the baby’s first Easter basket for keepsake that lasts for generation after generation.