Why Are Bunnies Associated with Easter? Here's the Story Behind Those Chocolate Bunnies
Synonymous with Easter are two things: Jesus and the Easter Bunny. One's origin is pretty straightforward, but why exactly are bunnies so heavily associated with Easter? (Chocolate bunnies, we're looking at you.)
As expected, the background of the Easter Bunny is unconfirmed. But it can probably be traced back to pagan traditions, specifically the pagan festival of the goddess Eostre, who stood for fertility and spring using the symbol of those fast-reproducing bunnies, according to Time. In fact, many aspects of Easter, like its use of eggs, is derived from pagan celebration, the Guardian reported.
The Easter Bunny's tracks in America can be traced back to the 18th century, when German immigrants to the United States brought along the tradition of Osterhase or Oschter Haws, a hare that laid eggs, according to the History Channel's website. Children would leave carrots out for the bunny and also make nests for its eggs. The origins of the Osterhase itself, however, remain unknown.
Eggs are also a symbol of fertility, according to National Geographic.
Mention of the hare can be found in fairytale author Jacob Grimm's 1835 book Deutsche Mythologie, according to WCPO. There's also a German text from 1572 that references the Easter Bunny: "Do not worry if the Easter Bunny escapes you; should we miss his eggs, we will cook the nest," it reads.
The Easter Bunny began to gain traction during the Civil War when it was printed on cards, and also during the depression, according to National Geographic. Today, the symbolic bunny can easily be found in your local grocery store.