Rabbits and eggs - an unusual pairing, except during Easter, Source: Depositphotos

Who invented the Easter Bunny?

Who invented the Easter Bunny?

We owe the unusual cultural icon to this country in Europe

Eggs and bunnies. Normally, these two only come together in a sentence when we might be referring to a farmer’s production and the offspring of some of his livestock. But come Easter, the two suddenly become inseparable, even if a rather unusual combination. What’s the origin of this pairing and where did it begin?

Apparently, we need to look to good old Germany for the answer. Called Osterhase, or Easter Hare, the first reference to the long-eared animal playing a part in the Eastertide rituals can be found in De ovos paschalibus (About the Easter eggs).

This was a dissertation written in 1682 by Georg Franck von Franckenau (also known as Johannes Richier), a medical doctor from Frankfurt. In it, the physician described a custom where children in the Rhineland-Palatinate and Alsace would gather eggs “laid” by a rabbit in the bushes. At least, the author said that is the “fable that is told to the naive and children”.

Lutherans spread the tradition abroad

The dissertation doesn’t explain how exactly the idea of combining hares and eggs might have sprung up in that part of Germany, though another academic book - Rabbits in Children’s Books (1976), by Lilla Farmer – states that an impoverished German woman had the idea of hiding the painted eggs in a bush to provide some entertainment for her kids. It just so happened that when the children found the eggs a rabbit jumped out of the same bush leading to the belief that it was the animal that had laid the colourful eggs.

What’s sure is that the pairing originated among the Lutheran community in Germany, and they also brought it to the United States with immigration where it really took off in popularity. So much so that already in 1878, the Easter Bunny played a central role in the White House’s annual Easter Egg Roll.



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