The Historical Perspective On Eggs And Bunnies
This Sunday, April 8th, is Easter and for some it means eggs and bunnies.
According to Ann Effland, historical expert at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the egg goes back to early pre-Christian spring celebrations as a symbol of fertility. Both Eggs and bunnies were ancient and traditional and were part of a celebration dedicated to the Saxon Goddess Eastre.
Effland says the Goddess Estre was often pictured in early German culture as part rabbit.
The early Christian church borrowed that celebration and attached the observation of the resurrection of Christ to it. It helped them convert pagans at the time, but because it was in the spring it retain the association with fertility.
"The Persians and Egyptians actually exchanged eggs that were decorated in spring colors as a way of celebrating the spring. The early Christians sort of adopted that."
According to an old German tale, a poor woman had decorated eggs for her family and hid them, as was the tradition, and when they found them hidden in a nest they looked up and saw a bunny hopping away. Thus evolved the egg hunts of today.
The transition from eggs to candy, Effland says is the result of successful campaigns by European candy companies back in the 19th century.
The Easter bunny has taken on a life of its own, as well, after coming to the United States by way of the Pennsylvania Dutch.