Are Rabbits Christian Symbols of Easter?
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Are Rabbits Christian Symbols of Easter?

What do rabbits have to do with Easter? How are bunnies related to Easter? Why do we associate bunnies with Easter? Is the Easter bunny male? Why does the Easter bunny lay eggs? Learn more about the very early origins of the holiday we celebrate as Easter and where bunnies and eggs fit in.

Are rabbits Christians Symbols of Easter? This is a question often asked every spring, along with “What do bunnies have to do with Easter?”. To get straight to the point, bunnies have a lot to do with Easter but are not Christian symbols of Easter, at least not traditionally.

Easter and the Easter bunny both predate Christianity and go back to pagan traditions of fertility in honor of the goddess Eostre (this name has many similar spellings). Eostre was the goddess of fertility, and of course rabbits are a symbol of fertility, as are eggs and chicks.

This ancient history of what we now call Easter was even recorded by Saint Bede the Venerable who noted in his work “The Reckoning of Time” the Anglo-Saxons (prior to converting to Christianity) were pagans who worshiped Eostre as their fertility goddess.

Later Jacob Grimm, a German who studied history and linguistics, cited in Deutche Mythologie: “The heathen Easter had much in common with May-feast and the reception of spring, particularly in matter of bonfires. Then, through long ages there seem to have lingered among the people Easter-games so-called, which the church itself had to tolerate: I allude especially to the custom of Easter eggs, and to the Easter tale which preachers told from the pulpit for the people's amusement, connecting it with Christian reminiscences. “

There are many stories in regards to the goddess Eostre; several to explain why the Easter bunny lays eggs. In one her lover is a bird, whom she transforms into a rabbit. He (yes the Easter bunny is male) lays eggs as a reminder that he was a bird.

When we look further at the word “Easter” itself, it is clearly related to fertility, indeed the goddess Eostre gave her name not only to this holiday but to the woman's estrus cycle and estrogen itself.

Getting back to bunnies and rabbits (really the same kind of animal) and hares (a larger wild animal) they have been associated with fertility as they are extremely prolific. A female rabbit can be bred at anytime, they do not have heat cycles like most mammals. She can even be bred while she has a litter of nursing kits, and can reproduce so fast she can give birth even before those first kits have left the nest.

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So now it is a matter of connecting the dots. Easter existed as a pagan holiday to worship the Goddess Eostre long before Christianity. Its popular traditions included feast (lamb), games involving Easter eggs, and the fertility symbol of rabbits. Naturally this festival fell in the spring when animals were giving birth and new life was returning to the land after winter.

As a holiday it was too popular for people to give up, so Christian missionaries reassigned new meanings to them and allowed the people to retain their traditions while still converting them to Christianity.

Note: Eggs were the main symbol of spring fertility holidays from Egypt to Rome, to the United Kingdom. The Easter bunny comes primarily from Germany.

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Comments (2)

Bunnys just make Easter even better in my opinion. My mom always baked a Bunny cake each year as well with lost of green coconut grass all around it. Very interesting information to vote up.

I like bunnies but I don't feel they have any semblance for the resurrection. I call easter resurrection day.