With this being Easter weekend I started to wonder about the significance (if there was any) to the Easter Bunny and colored eggs. Where did this tradition begin and why? Who came up with the idea that a bunny hides eggs? When you really stop to think about it, it sounds a little bit strange so I did a little research and while there are many differing opinions as to why we follow these traditions these are the ones that I came across the most.
History of the Bunny
The Easter Bunny originated among German Lutherans and was used to judge children’s behavior. If they were good the bunny brought candy and sometimes toys to the childrens homes in baskets. Does this sound like someone else we know? Perhaps a jolly old man in bright red suit? While Santa Claus is said to leave lumps of coal to all who were bad, I couldn’t find what the bunny left behind to those deemed too terrible for toys. The Germans brought the egg-laying bunny tradition to U.S. in the 18th century. They also attempted to bring this tradition to Sweden in the late 19th century, but it never really took off. Instead, due to a language barrier and a misunderstanding of what words meant Swedish children have an Easter Wizard that delivers eggs. Fun Fact: Swedish children dress up as witches for Easter which makes you wonder what they do for Halloween. I don’t even know if they celebrate Halloween, but that sounds like research for another day.
History of the Eggs
The history of the eggs is a little more confusing, but some think it has to do with abstaining from eating eggs during the fasting of Lent. To preserve them so they would not be wasted, they were boiled or roasted and then consumed to break the fasting. It’s possible they colored them as part of the celebration. I grew up with the tradition of dying eggs all sorts of colors and decorating them all sorts of different ways. Never once stopping to ask why we were doing this. Apparently, many Christians of the Eastern Orthodox Church typically dye their eggs blood red in recognition of the blood spilled by Christ and some also dye some eggs green for the birth of spring after a long winter.
While you are snacking on sugar-coated marshmallows, chocolate bunnies, and colored eggs take a moment to think about what Easter means to you and why you celebrate the way you do. What is the history of it and what can you be passing down to younger generations. I was fortunate to grow up in a very loving family with firm family traditions, but I don’t know the roots of any them and I better start asking questions before it is too late.
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