Sunday, March 23, 2008


The Eostre Hare arrives!

In pagan times, the "Easter hare" was no ordinary animal, but a sacred companion of the goddess of spring, Eostre.

The Easter bunny has its origin in pre-Christian fertility lore. The Hare and the Rabbit were the most fertile animals known and they served as symbols of the new life during the spring season.

Since long before Christianity developed, parents told their children that the magic hare would bring them presents at the spring festival. The presents were often painted eggs, as these represented the new life starting at this time of year.

Hares are animals which look like rabbits, but are larger and in many countries quite rare. In most places, the Easter rabbit (bunny) has replaced the Easter hare completely.

The bunny was first used as a symbol of Easter in 16th century Germany, where it was first mentioned in German writings. The first edible Easter bunnies, made primarily of pastry and sugar, were produced in Germany as well, during the early 1800s. Children made nests of grass and placed them in their yards, believing the Easter Bunny would fill these baskets with brightly decorated eggs during the night. With any luck, their parents knew where they placed these nests the day before.

The Easter bunny was introduced to American folklore by the German settlers who arrived in the Pennsylvania Dutch country during the 1700s. The arrival of the "Oschter Haws" was considered "childhood's greatest pleasure" next to a visit from Christ-Kindel on Christmas Eve. The children believed that if they were good the "Oschter Haws" would lay a nest of colored eggs.

Thus the custom of making nests also spread to America. Children 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.


Anonymous said...

There are plenty of examples of major religions in the past adopting symbols and rituals from older fading religions.

The need to assimilate the pagans into the new Christian faith was achieved not by sword only.

Like Christmas and Halloween, you will find a plethora of examples that Christianity emulates to bring the semi-faithful back to the church on high holidays.

The bunny is cute, but I'll stick to my cats.

Anonymous said...

So many stores depend on selling chocolate rabbits, plastic grass and jelly beans during this season. You cant suggest taking that away from them.

Seasonal marketing to the consumer is all there is anymore.

Back-to-school to halloween to thanksgiving to christmas to new years to valentines day to presidents day to easter to memorial to independance day - where did we not market cheap disposable goods to the consumer?

Got to keep the Easter Bunny alive and well.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the history lesson Mike. I truly enjoyed it.

Anonymous said...

By the way, the sword didn't assimilate anyone - it just hacked a considerable number of men, women and children into tiny pieces.

Bunnys aren't likely to do that.

Nor are cats.

Anonymous said...

What do you call a bunny rabbit hanging on a closeline?

A "hare"-dryer.

What do you call a bunny rabbit on a closeline viewed from an ever increasing distance?

A receding "hare"-line.

How does one survive in this world of cruel illusions?

Make like a rabbit and burrow deep into a hole?

I guess.

Learn to laugh at jokes that really aren't (if ya' really think about it) all that funny?


I was just watching a show about some early philosophers - and although it is GREAT that this is on television, sponsored in a large part by Humanist organizations -it spun me right into a depression...

Because fate has not been kind to the likes of me... even though my worst vices, really, are drinking coffee, smoking cigarettes,thinking much too deeply, harboring an all pervasive fear of wolves dressed in granny-gear - and saying the occassional curse word.

A self-pity post?

I guess.

I won't make a habit of it. But somehow I think you will understand what I am not saying.

Your show was good tonight, BTW.

I like the changes & I have immense respect (based on what I know) for both you and Tom Hoffey.

Keep on keeping on.

The world (whether it knows it or not) needs you.