Here's What to Know About the Easter Bunny's Origin Story and History

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Boy, do we have a tall "tail" to tell you! There are dozens of great story opportunities throughout the Easter holiday, whether it's anecdotes about why you give something up for lent or raucous Easter egg hunts of the past. But one of the best scoops to serve over a root beer-glazed ham dinner is the story of the fluffy-tailed critter known as the Easter Bunny. He's among the more recognized symbols of springtime's most joyous holiday, yet have you ever stopped to wonder about the Easter Bunny' origin story?

The little fella seems to have been around since the dawn of time. Or, at least since we began celebrating as children. His symbol seems to be everywhere, which begs the question: Where did the Easter Bunny come from? Why does he bring us eggs? And how old is he? The Bunny is a folkloric figure that is ubiquitous with the springtime holiday, beloved for delivering Easter baskets filled with Easter candy and eggs filled with treats to children around the world (much like another Christian folkloric figure 🤔). He's even been the star of a few of his own Easter movies and books! Yet a tall-eared Bunny is never so much as mentioned in the Biblical story, which has us also pondering how the fantastical hare became associated with Christianity's holiest day in the first place.

Ahead, you'll find the answers to these questions and more about the planet's most famous rabbit (begging your pardon, Bugs Bunny). Read on to learn about the history of the Easter Bunny, then share your knowledge with the whole family as you play special Easter games, make Easter decorations, or drink special Easter cocktails. And don't forget to share some cute Easter photos like the Drummonds do each year!

What's the Easter Bunny origin story?

Photo credit: FatCamera - Getty Images
Photo credit: FatCamera - Getty Images

It's believed the story of the Easter Bunny, or at least his precursor, was brought to America with the first German immigrants, who arrived in Pennsylvania in the 1700s. According to History.com, the settlers told a legend in their homeland about an "Osterhase" or "Oschter Haws"—a rabbit who laid eggs. German children made nests for the bunny to encourage him to leave the brightly colored treats, a custom which continued on these shores. As the years passed, the myth of the egg-laying rabbit spread and morphed, with the bunny eventually dishing up a basket filled with candy, toys, and eggs.

Nowadays, more than 88 percent of American parents lend the Easter Bunny a hand and help prepare Easter baskets for their children. Chocolate bunnies are an especially popular basket filler, with U.S. candy makers whipping up some 91 million for the holiday each year.

What does the rabbit have to do with Easter?

Photo credit: Melanie Lieseberg / EyeEm - Getty Images
Photo credit: Melanie Lieseberg / EyeEm - Getty Images

Originally, nothing. As previously mentioned, the Bible contains no reference to the Easter Bunny. He technically has nothing to do with Christ's resurrection. Instead, notes NBC News, the rabbit's roots can be traced back to ancient paganism, and the deity Eostra. The goddess of spring, rebirth, and fertility, her icon was the rabbit, thanks to its ability to quickly procreate. Some historians believe Christians named Easter after Eostra as a way of encouraging conversion, so along with the pagan moniker came the symbol of the bunny.

The first Easter celebration is said to have taken place in the 2nd century, but historians believe it probably occurred earlier, as the Vernal Equinox festival in honor of Eostra transitioned into the Christian holiday. By the 17th century, Protestants in Europe had firmly connected rabbits and Easter, although throughout the world other animals are associated with it. They include the bilby, a rabbit-like marsupial in Australia, Switzerland's Easter Cuckoo, and even the Easter fox, chick, stork, and rooster in Germany.

How is the Easter Bunny related to Jesus?

Photo credit: Liliboas - Getty Images
Photo credit: Liliboas - Getty Images

The Easter Bunny may not be featured in the Good Book, but he does share a connection with Christ: eggs. Like rabbits, eggs represented new life and fertility in pagan times, which is probably how the Easter fable of a warm-blooded, floppy-eared mammal laying eggs evolved. Then again, eggs also became associated with Easter through the religious aspect of the holiday. According to History.com, eggs represent Jesus' resurrection and his emergence from the tomb.

And decorating those eggs? Who or what is responsible for the bright colors of the eggs the Easter Bunny uses to fill children's baskets? It's thought that the tradition, which dates back to the 13th century, eventually became popular because eggs were forbidden to eat during Lent. As Easter neared, people would decorate them in celebration of the fast's approaching end, finally consuming the eggs on the holiday.

Is the Easter Bunny real?

Photo credit: ArtMarie - Getty Images
Photo credit: ArtMarie - Getty Images

If you're a young 'un reading this article, then the short answer is of course yes, he is! While sometimes your parents might help out the busy bunny by leaving some candy or a present on Easter morning, he's the one responsible for delivering most of the baskets. In fact, you can even follow along with the rabbit's journey this year thanks to the Easter Bunny Tracker! Beginning at 5 a.m. ET, on Saturday, April 16, 2022, the website will check in with the bunny every hour as he travels from his home on Easter Island around the globe. Along the way, the site will provide fascinating statistics like how fast he's going, how many baskets he's delivered, and even how many carrots he's eaten.

The website, which is plenty easy to use, also offers an Easter countdown clock, games, coloring pages, and more. There's even an Easter FAQ page, where you can find out more about everyone's favorite holiday figure. It includes lots of interesting info about the Easter Bunny's marital state (yep, he's got a wife); his favorite food (carrots, naturally); and even how tall he is (between 3 and 6 feet).

There you have it, folks. That's everything you ever wanted to know and more about the Easter Bunny! Do you include the Easter Bunny in your Easter celebration? Let us know how in the comments below!