Everyone knows the Easter Bunny, right?
Cute little fuzz-ball that delivers chocolate eggs on Easter…but…rabbits don’t lay eggs! Where, then, did this idea come from?
It would appear that the tradition comes from Germany, with one of the earliest references to the Easter Bunny turning up in a mid-late 16th century text. Another text from the late 17th century entitled ‘About Easter Eggs’ by Georg Franck von Franckenau makes reference to the German tradition of a Hare or Rabbit bringing eggs for children.
The eggs themselves tie into the tradition of the fast of Lent, during which ‘rich’ foods such as butter, sugar and eggs are forbidden (see Did You Know…About Pancake Day for more). As part of the tradition people would decorate eggs (usually by boiling them with flowers to change the colour which was typically red, representing the blood of Christ) and give them as gifts.
But how does one link a rabbit and eggs?
In ancient times it was believed (by the likes of Pliny the Elder and Plutarch, among others) that rabbits and hares were actually sexless and reproduced by laying eggs! This sexless reproduction was linked to the Virgin Mary by the early church with rabbits and hares appearing in paintings with Mary and the Christ Child.
So there you have it!