Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Myth of the Easter Bunny

With the Easter holidays just ending, I thought that it would be appropriate to go on a bit about the mythology behind the Easter bunny and how he was created. When we think about Easter we think about chocolate bunnies and coloured eggs hidden for children to find. But how did it all start?

The holiday was named after the Saxon goddess Oestre or Easter. Bringing an end to winter and having a passion for creating new life, she brought an end to winter, making the days brighter and longer. Wherever she went, plants flowered and babies were born-- both animal and human. The rabbit, known for its rapid reproduction, was her sacred animal.

One year, after feeling guilty about arriving late one spring, Easter came across a bird whose wings had been frozen in the snow. Saving its life, it became her pet, but it could no longer fly. She turned him into snow hare and gave him the gift of being able to run incredibly fast to protect himself. In order to remind him of his earlier form as a bird, she gave him the ability to lay eggs in all the colours of the rainbow, only one day a year.

One day, he angered the Goddess. She cast him into the skis to become a constellation (what we know as Lepus-- the hare), right below the feet of Orion. He was allowed to return to earth once each year, but only to give away his eggs to the children who attended the festivals held in her honour each spring.

And thus explains how the story of the Easter bunny began. What do you enjoy most about the holiday? Is it the chocolate? The gathering with family? Or is it the hunt for candy eggs?

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