You can blame the Dutch for the fact that a rabbit became associated with Easter; they brought their tradition of Oschtger Haws, a hare that laid colourful eggs, to Pennsylvania in the 1700s.
The Germans took the eggs and bunny theme a step further and in the 1800s started making them from chocolate. Pair any tradition with chocolate and you know it’s going to stick.
I suppose all religions are beautiful and all have a bit of oddness to them. Take Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. Santa at least is based upon a real person. St. Nicholas was a kindly monk born sometime around 280 A.D. in Turkey who liked to give children gifts. Granted, the gift giving has morphed into something St. Nick would never have recognised. But the bunny? That is way out there. Apparently it has to do with spring and procreation. One theory is that Eostre, an early Anglo-Saxon goddess of fertility, had the animal symbol of a rabbit, known of course, for its energetic breeding. Well just imagine pairing those bunnies with the caffeine and sugar from chocolate and BAM! That’s a lot of energetic procreation. Anyway, early Christians weren’t about to give that one up easily so perhaps early monks just let them keep that tradition and hoped it would go away. Nope. The bunny, especially a chocolate one, was here to stay.
Our kids loved chocolate; their idea of a balanced meal meant a chocolate in each hand. So naturally, they loved Easter.
To celebrate Easter and spring, the mall where we lived in Canada set up a little corral where children were allowed to play with chicks, bunnies and baby goats. Knowing that they still believed in the Easter Bunny, as any good mother on the lookout for trouble, I advised them that if they saw the little brown eggs the bunnies appeared to be laying, not to eat them. They were not chocolate.
The kids had a ball. They petted the bunnies and our son Spencer got a chance to pick up one of the fuzzy yellow chicks. He held it carefully in his hands, his face a picture of joy.
That evening his sister Stephanie announced to a startled Daddy that Spencer had picked up some chicks that day.
“Oh? Where?” Greg asked.
“At the mall,” she replied.
Greg, puzzled and faintly amused asked, “How?”
With a look of forced patience, Spencer replied, “By their feet, Dad.”
Looking at me, Greg shrugged and said, “I guess they do it differently these days.”
“Yeah, and I petted some bunnies too,” Spencer added proudly.
His Dad paused, carefully stroked his chin then said, “I think I’ll go hang out at the mall.”
Faye Lippitt is the author of “16 Chickens on a Trampoline” and the children’s book, “The Great Caribbean Chicken Caper.”