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Thursday, March 31, 2016

The "So, What's Up With The Easter Bunny?" Story

Ceramic Easter Bunnies my wife made.
It was an ordinary day.  Helping my wife put her Easter decorations back in the small plastic tub that holds them during the remainder of the year.  Then I began to wonder why most of the decorations have a rabbit theme to them.   What does a rabbit have to do with the death of Jesus on the Cross?  Well, I just had to "Google" it to see.  Seems that the Bible makes no mention of a long-eared, short-tailed creature who delivers decorated colored eggs to those who have been good, or reasonably good, in the time between Christmas and Easter.  Now, I must admit, I did make up those conditions myself, but why can't I when someone else came up with an Easter Rabbit!  Seems that the Easter Rabbit arrived in America in the 1700's when German immigrants settled in my backyard (Lancaster County, PA), so to speak.  
A trio of Carol's rabbits.
They carried with them their tradition of an egg-laying hare called "Osterhase".  Their children would make nests for this mythical creature to lay its colored eggs and place carrots next to the nest for the hare.  Sound like Christmas to you to?  Eventually the general public picked up on the idea and commercialized it while including chocolate, jelly beans (which date back to a Biblical-era concoction called a Turkish Delight) and the whole works to go along with the rabbit and eggs.  In Lancaster we actually have an Easter Bunny that you can visit at the local shopping mall and have your photo taken with him, or her.  
Chocolate Easter bunnies.
I did pass on that this year, but I did take notice that the White House had their annual Easter Egg Roll on the White House lawn on the Monday after Easter.  That first began in 1878 when Rutherford B. Hayes was President.  Remember that guy!  Today, Easter is the second best-selling candy holiday in America, after Halloween.  And naturally, the chocolate bunny is one of the biggest sellers.  That, and the marshmallow Peep made in all colors.  And, guess what .... the marshmallow-flavored peeps are made in Pennsylvania by a company called Just Born.  Easter is named for a Saxon goddess who was known by the names of Oestre, or Eastre, and in Germany by the name of Ostara who is the goddess of the dawn and the spring.  So, you see, Easter is much more than our celebration of Christ's resurrection from the dead following his death on Good Friday.  It is associated to unrelated practices of early pagan religions.  Easter history and traditions that we practice today evolved from pagan symbols, from the ancient egg-laying hare called "Osterhase" to the ancient goddess called Eastre.  Wow!  And I thought Easter was about the death and resurrection of Christ!  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.
 

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