May I wish you each a Joyous Easter my reader friends. As I sit this morning in my solarium, my Birds of Paradise reach for the skylights, a small floral feat compared to this extraordinary display from Brussels.
But Now – on to the truest symbol of Easter: The Easter Bunny. How about a little Gene Autry and “The Funny Little Bunny With The Powder-Puff Tail”, just to get us all in the mood, followed by a little well-researched Easter Bunny History.Â Â Â Â Â Funny Little Bunny
History Of Easter Bunny
The origin of the Easter bunny can be traced back to the ancient Pagan settlements. They regarded rabbits as symbols of fertility, because the animal gives birth to multiple offspring at a time. Since rabbits were fertility icons, they became symbols of the rising fertility of the Earth at the Vernal Equinox. Ancient tribes celebrated the beginning of Spring at the Vernal Equinox, by blessing seeds for growth and placing colored eggs on an altar. Therefore, it can be said that Easter Bunny has its origin in the ancients.
Another story, connected to the origin of Easter Bunny, is also related to an ancient legend. As per the legend, Goddess Eostre – the most worshiped Pagan deity – retrieved a wounded bird in a snowy forest, during a winter season. To help it survive the chilly winter, the Goddess turned it into a rabbit. However, it was not a complete transformation of the bird to a rabbit and hence, it continued to lay eggs. To extend its gratitude, the rabbit decorated its eggs beautifully and presented them to the deity, every spring. *(This could be the missing link to Cheeps :).
However, many historical records suggest that the Easter Bunny originated in Alsace and Southwestern Germany, where it was first mentioned in German writings, in the 1600s.
The American folklore was acquainted with Easter Bunny, when the German settlers, who arrived in Pennsylvania during the 1700s and introduced the legendary character. It was termed as the arrival of ‘Oschter Haws’, which was considered ‘childhood’s greatest pleasure’. The small kids believed that the Oschter Haws would lay a nest of colored eggs.
During the 1800s, edible Easter Bunnies were made in Germany, in the shape of pastries made with sugar. The Easter Bunny became a part of modern day Easter celebration in Germany, where tales were told of an “Easter hare” who laid eggs for children to find. They also baked cakes for Easter in the shape of hares, and may have pioneered the practice of making chocolate bunnies and eggs. Thus,the Easter Bunny is one of the prominent symbols of the festival as well as the funniest part of the celebrations. Easter gift galleries were filled with cute stuffed bunny toys and confectionery shops who did brisk business by selling chocolate bunny rabbit cookies and cakes.
Easter is actually a lunar festival rather than a solar event. The celebration of Easter falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon on or after the vernal equinox (and if said full moon falls on a Sunday, then Easter is the Sunday after).
Now here’s another version: Eostre (pronounced East-ra) is the Anglo-Saxon goddess of the dawn, from whom “East” and “Easter” got their names. As the fertility goddess of the Northern European peoples, the invading Romans merged Eostre’s spring legend with Christianity, to coincide with the time of Christ’s resurrection.
In German mythology, she is also the goddess Ostara, the maiden, and celebrated at the Equninox when night and day are equal and balanced. Interestingly, the word “estrus” is also derived from Eostre, for her consort was a rabbit, also a symbol of fertility!
According to legend, Eostre became angry with the rabbit and cast it into the heavens. Today we can see the constellation Lepus the Hare, at the feet of Orion.
Eostre gave Lepus the gift of laying eggs once a year, which, when combined with the celebration of Christ’s resurrection, is why we have the modern day tradition with the Easter Bunny delivering Easter eggs.
From the most ancient times, the goddess Eostre was the measurer of time. Our measurer of time is the moon, chosen over the Sun, so the lunar month of 28 days (four weeks of seven days each) gives 13 periods in 364 days, equivalent to the solar year of 52 weeks.
The moon may then be another name for Eostre, and its name comes from the Sanskrit word “mas” ~ from ma, to measure ~ and was masculine. Because the measurement of time is an active process, the waxing and full moon was considered male, while the waning and new moon were said to be female.
In mythology, gods and goddesses were androgynous and their sex depended upon what was needed in the moment. And, it was believed that a rabbit could change its sex ~ like the moon.
How do these revelations about our lunar measurer further relate to the Easter Bunny? A clue to the answer is found within the paintings and fables of artists and storytellers of the Far East. These artists often painted the moon with rabbits racing across its face. The Chinese, in particular, have represented the moon as a rabbit pounding rice in a mortar.
According to tradition, the Jade Rabbit pounds out medicine for the gods with the lady Ch’ang-e. Others say that the Jade Rabbit is a shape assumed by Ch’ang-e herself.The dark areas to the top of the full moon can be construed as the figure of a rabbit. The animal’s ears point to the upper right,while at the left are two large circular areas representing its head and body.
There are even more explanations accounting for the rabbit/moon connection. One is that the bunny is nocturnal and feeds by night; another is that the rabbit’s gestation period is one month long.
Hares are born with their eyes open, so the Egyptians called the hare “Un,” which meant open, to open, the opener. Un also meant period. Thus the rabbit became a symbol for the lunar cycle. The hare as “opener” symbolized the new year at Easter, fertility, and the beginning of new life.
The rabbit’s association with the moon is explained by this story.
Once upon a time, a monkey, a rabbit, and a fox lived together as friends. During the day they frolicked on the mountain; at night they went back to the forest. As the years passed Indra, the Lord of Heaven became curious and wanted to see if rumors of their friendship were true. He went to them disguised as an old wanderer, “I have traveled through mountains and valleys and I am weak and tired,” he stated. “Could you give me something to eat?”
Immediately, the monkey departed to gather nuts. After returning, he presented the food to the wanderer; the fox brought an offering from his fish trap in the river. The rabbit ran through the fields, searching desperately for something to offer. When he returned with nothing, the monkey and the fox teased him endlessly. Depressed and discouraged, the little rabbit asked the monkey to gather some wood and the fox to set fire to it. Suddenly, the little rabbit said, “Please eat me,” and threw himself into the flames.
The wanderer, honored and humbled by the sacrifice, began to weep. Then, he proclaimed, “All of you deserve praise, for your offerings were kind and thoughtful. This little rabbit, however, has displayed true selflessness with his sacrifice.” As the other animals watched, he revealed himself as a god, restoring the rabbit to his original form and taking the little body to heaven to be buried in the palace of the moon, (but first he bit the chocolate ears off 🙂
How “Cheeps” came to be.