The origins of the Easter bunny are somewhat of a mystery.
One thought is that they stem from an old pagan tradition celebrating the goddess of fertility. The name of the Germanic fertility goddess was Ēostre. The sacred animal was the hare. Hares were profuse breeders; hence they became a symbol of fertility. Over time the hare was replaced by a rabbit that became known as the Easter Bunny who hid colored eggs at Easter.
Pagan Anglo-Saxons had held feasts in Ēostre’s honour, but this tradition was replaced by the Christian Paschal month, a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus. Easter is a religious holiday and the Easter eggs are a representation of Jesus’ emergence from the tomb to his resurrection.
Eggs were and still are representative of new life and the decorating of eggs for Easter dates back many hundreds of years to the 13th century. Churches encouraged their followers to abstain from eating eggs and to paint and decorate them instead, during the time of Lent… then allowing them to eat them once again on Easter.
Easter is a very important time on the religious calendar and is celebrated widely around the world, having grown out of the ancient symbol of fertility and new life. The egg is associated with spring and “fertility”, “rebirth” and “the beginning”. With a rise in Christianity across Western Europe, many pagan customs and beliefs were adopted into Christian tradition. The egg was a symbol of new life represented by the Resurrection.
Easter Traditions across the Atlantic
Immigrants brought their traditions with them when they decided to migrate to new lands. New continents were being discovered and new traditions were developing. The earliest Easter Eggs were painted with different vegetable dyes and were duck or hen eggs. Flowers and baskets were a later addition. These varying customs eventually spread, along with the fabled Easter Rabbit.
These customs developed into the famous morning Easter hunt for multicoloured Easter Eggs, along with other candy ones. Decorated Easter baskets became essential to collect these special eggs, replacing the original nests. Carrots are also sometimes left out the night before to entice the hungry Easter bunny to add additional eggs and so that he would not get hungry while jumping around the garden.
Family Easter fun
The painting of Easter eggs is still a strong tradition and quite fun to do with children. It’s easy to do, but only paint hard boiled cooked eggs.
Children love to paint and cut out Easter shaped eggs and decorate Easter egg cartons along with straw like decoration.
This is a picture of my 3-year-old grandson’s decorated painted cardboard Easter egg carton. We had so much fun using various colours and blending different colours together. Some of them we placed in a cut-out green basket, rolled together, that stood up on the table. We had a lovely three hours of bonding, chatting, and painting while he was using his skills of drawing, painting and cutting out shapes which he does extremely well. I allowed him to experiment and explore his creative side. It’s such a fun activity to do for Easter.