“What the heck is it with Easter? I mean bunnies and eggs? What’s one got to do with the other?” Easter perplexes the heck out of my daughter. She loves the candy and the decorating of eggs of course, but she’s long been incredulous at the array of seemingly unconnected symbolism that is so associated with this spring holiday.
This year we decided to buckle down and do a little research. What we found was pretty interesting. Of course there is the usual history of Easter Egg decorating, the finest examples of course being the Pysanky designs of Ukrainian tradition. Who doesn’t love a good Pysanky egg? Wikipedia will tell you all about the pagan origins of Easter, and the tradition of eggs and bunnies as ultimate symbols of fertility. Still we’d found this information in the past. What we really wanted was a good solid link between bunnies and eggs.
Finally we found it! Well sort of. One theory oft repeated on various Easter history sites is that in the “olden times” people tended to confuse the ground nests of birds called plovers, with the forms (another word for nest) of hares. Occasionally an olden timer would come across one of these nests in the spring and confuse it with a hare nest, subsequently determining that hares must lay eggs in the spring. At least that’s the story the internet tells. I tend to think we don’t give folks enough credit, and probably this whole idea was just part of the overall Easter story grownups told to kids for amusement. Regardless in all the old stories the Easter rodent is always a hare, not a rabbit. Hares and rabbits are different animals, albeit related. Bunnies in particular are young rabbits, not hares. So in fact all this hullabaloo about the Easter Bunny is just kind of totally wrong. At least according to the internet.
But really who cares? Easter is fun. Bunnies, candy, decorating eggs? Sign me up.
This months coloring page is a bunny (not a hare), surrounded by an assortment of pysanky eggs.
Happy coloring! And Happy Spring!
1 thought on “Printable Fun for Easter: Plus, the Link Between Eggs and Rabbits, Revealed!”
My own research has turned up that the connection between the two was tenuous. Although the link between Eostre/Ostara and Easter is poorly documented (other than being the source of the word ‘Easter’), there is no question that many peoples had celebrations in the early spring.
Early spring was an amazing time. In a period of weeks, the world went from dead to brilliantly alive (and many early cultures did believe the world literally died in the winter, so spring wasn’t just ‘hey nice weather is here’, it is ‘hey, the world didn’t stay dead forever’.) What better excuse to have a party? Spring is a time of life, and a time of fertility, and spring festivals were frequently festivals of just that – fertility.
There are a great many things that have been taken to represent fertility. Pomegranates, with their numerous seeds. Eggs, as they are an obvious, visible source of life. Hares, for their, er, obviously fertile ways. Direct symbols, such as phallic imagery.
Early Anglo-Saxon festivals used two of those – eggs and hares – in their festivals. Without getting too much into the early churches practices, let’s just say that they adopted the name and symbology of the local holidays when they moved in (look up the history of Halloween and Christmas trees for similar examples.)
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