11 April 2009

HAPPY EASTER: On the Easter Bunny

Nobody rendered rascally rabbits as sweetly as Beatrix Potter.
Every time I pick up one of my watering cans, I picture Peter Rabbit.

The Easter Bunny

Delivering baskets of colored eggs, the Easter bunny is arguably the most popular secular symbol of Easter, as part and parcel of most Christian Americans’ childhood as Santa Claus.
The Easter bunny is not indigenous to North America. Nor is the tradition’s origin rooted in Christianity. Even before the Christian era, rabbits and hares were associated with fertility, due to their rapid reproduction. The animals became linked with the new life of the Spring season.
As an Easter symbol, rabbits seem to have originated in Germany. German writings dating to the 1500s mention the Easter bunny; and in the 1800s, the first edible Easter bunnies were made in Germany, using pastry and sugar.
German immigrants settling in the Pennsylvanian Dutch countryside introduced the Easter bunny to American folklore in the 1700s. Legend held that if children behaved well, the Easter bunny would lay a nest full of colored eggs. Children built their Easter bunny nests in hidden spots within the house or in the garden or barn. Boys used their caps as Easter bunny nests, and girls used their bonnets.
As the tradition of the Easter bunny spread throughout the nation, the use of elaborate Easter baskets became commonplace. And in the minds and mouths and memories of many, Easter holidays are incomplete without chocolate rabbits.


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