By Angelica Means and Nicole Mendoza
Yesterday, millions of people all over the world celebrated Easter. It is always a very festive day, full of food, joy, and eggs stuffed with candy… laid by a magical rabbit? Where did that come from? Why is there an Easter Bunny running around leaving gifts for children, acting like the Santa of Spring?
First, let’s take a look at the holiday itself. Easter is a cultural holiday, predominantly celebrated by Christians, that celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Therefore, the festivities are mostly centered around the idea of rebirth. This fits in perfectly with the season, as Spring is the time of year where Mother Nature awakens from her snowy slumber, and the landscape is once more covered in green. Fertility is also often associated with this time of the year. These ideas inspire the use of eggs, an object from which life emerges.
But still- what about the famous Easter Bunny, and what does it have to do with Jesus? The bunny originates from polytheistic beliefs. One theory cites a deity celebrated by the pagans, Eostre (although this goddess’s existence is attested only by the 8th century work The Reckoning of Time by Bede). The namesake of Easter, the goddess of fertility uses the rabbit as her symbol because of their high reproduction rates. The tradition of the Easter Bunny delivering eggs was brought to America by immigrants from Germany in the 1800’s. The baskets in which the eggs and candies are delivered are reminiscent of nests, the making of which followed this migration. These practices have evolved into a commercial staple of the festivities.
Yesterday, as children ran around searching for the bright eggs, they were unknowingly participating in a celebration of fertility, rebirth, and most importantly, merged traditions.