He lurks in the shadows . . . a fur covered creature . . . with long, sharp teeth, littering the landscape with painted eggs . . .
Like Christmas, Easter is a hybrid of pagan and Christian beliefs. In Christianity, Easter Sunday celebrates the resurrection of Christ and his ascension into heaven. For Pagans, Easter is a springtime ritual celebrating rebirth and new life, with rabbits (because of their prolific breeding habits) and eggs representing symbols of fertility. In fact, the word ‘Easter’ is derived from ‘Eostre’ the pagan goddess of fertility.
So we see how the rabbit and the eggs came together. But why are the eggs coloured? Precise origins are unknown, but many Eastern Orthodox Christians dye their Easter eggs red to symbolize the blood of Christ, while some pagans will dye their eggs green in honour of the emerging springtime foliage.
The concept of an egg-laying bunny came to North America in the 18th century when German immigrants to the Pennsylvania Dutch area told their children about ‘Osterhas’, or sometimes spelled ‘Oschter Haws’. Oschter means ‘Easter’ in German and ‘Hase’ means ‘hare’, not rabbit, so this Easter ‘Hare’ would bring good children colored eggs and place them in ‘nests’ the children had built in their caps or bonnets.