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Have a Hippity Hoppity Easter

April 8, 2012

PenDelfin RabbitDid you know that the Easter Bunny has been around for thousands of years?  In fact, she (yes, the original Easter Bunny was female) was initially worshipped as the earthly symbol of the Anglo-Saxon goddess of offspring and springtime, Eastre, during the pagan festival of the same name (the rabbit being the most fertile of animals, it served as a symbol of ‘new life’ during the spring season).

Velveteen RabbitNOTE:  it wasn’t until the second century that ‘Easter’ became a Christian holiday. As missionaries gradually converted the ‘pagans’ to Christianity, they also adapted their spring festival to meld with their own celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ (which just happened to be observed at approximately the same time of the year as Eastre).

IKEA Velveteen RabbitWe can thank the Germans for our modern interpretation of the Easter Bunny (and her chocolate incarnation); it was a German (Georg Franck von Franckenau) who, in 1682, first wrote about the Easter hare in his essay, ‘About Easter Eggs’; the first edible bunnies (a pastry and sugar concoction) were made in Germany in the 1800s; and it was German settlers who brought the tradition of ‘a visit from Oschter Haws’ (a white hare who would lay coloured eggs in the bonnets and hats of good little girls and boys) to the U.S. in the 1700s.

NOTE: by the nineteenth century, the white Easter Hare had somehow become the Easter Bunny/Rabbit (occasionally depicted as white, but just as often represented as a brown rabbit with a white tail – e.g., ‘Peter Cottontail’) who brought candied eggs, marshmallow chicks, chocolate, and other sweet treats to children on Easter morning. I’m still a bit confused about why rabbits laid eggs at Easter, though – I ‘get’ that eggs and rabbits are both symbols of fertility but rabbits don’t lay eggs!!!!!  

Ceramic Mom and Baby RabbitWhen I was little, ‘the Easter Bunny’ brought each child in the house an elaborately decorated chocolate rabbit, chicken, or egg (with your name written on it in white icing); the chocolate had a kind of hard glaze that protected it (I assume) from melting too quickly, and the items were carefully wrapped in crinkly clear plastic and nestled on thick shredded paper in a heavy cardboard box. You couldn’t buy these items in ‘any old store’ either – only certain shops carried them.  We dyed hard-boiled eggs (Paas kits came with little coloured pellets that you dropped into water, and metal dipping sticks for lowering the eggs into the mixture; they also included stickers and paper ‘outfits’ you could use to further decorate your eggs); most of the eggs we coloured never got eaten.  We also ‘hunted’ for multi-coloured candied eggs that the Easter Bunny would hide in the living room and dining room (he also tucked a dozen or so under our pillows while we slept). 

Mr. BunnyI pretty much followed these same Easter traditions with my own boys (although we only did the egg-dying a couple of times, and the chocolate and candy were usually purchased in the grocery store or at the local drugstore – where, for several years, you could get a hollow chocolate egg with the child’s name on it for only 99 cents).  I never understood (or bought) Easter chocolate shaped like Spider-Man, fire engines, dogs, cats, trucks or other ‘non-springtime’ things, and stuck with the more traditional rabbits, chickens, and eggs (although we did experiment with white chocolate, peanut-butter and chocolate, and crispy chocolate at times, to mixed reviews).  

The Easter Bunny doesn’t leave candy at my house anymore (although I generally pick up a few items and put them in decorative bags and deliver them to my kids and their significant others), but he did drop by this weekend.

Cottontail RabbitWhen I went out to work in the garden yesterday, I was pleasantly surprised to find a cottontail in my yard (we have quite a few in our neighbourhood – it isn’t unusual to encounter two or three on our nightly walks; a few years ago, the neighbours behind us had a litter of rabbit kits under a bush in their backyard that I could watch [through binoculars] from the back deck, and we’ve had the odd one hop through the yard at various times over the years).  My visitor stayed just long enough for me to take his picture before bounding off; my guess is he’ll be back once my garden grows a little more (I’m always torn between chasing animals away from eating my plants. and enjoying their presence in my yard; generally the animals win out over the plants!)

As a ‘collector’ (of way too many things) I have a few rabbits of my own in and around the house.  I’ve ‘decorated’ this post with several of them.  In order, they are:

  1. ‘Snuggles’, a PenDelfin collectible I’ve had for as long as I can remember.
  2. A female version of the famed ‘Velveteen Rabbit’; this one is about 12” tall.
  3. A smaller ‘Velveteen Rabbit’ (6”) that I found lying alone on a shelf in IKEA’s clearance section; it looked so forlorn, I just had to bring it home.
  4. French BunnyA small ceramic mother and baby bunny my own mother gave me several years ago.
  5. Mr. Bunny – a composite garden rabbit I discovered on the clearance table at Home Depot (for $10) because one of his ears had broken off. My husband fixed his ear and he’s just fine, now, thank-you-very-much. He spends his summers on the deck with us, and his winters in the living room by the sliding door.
  6. My cottontail visitor.
  7. A solid metal ‘French bunny’ (I don’t know why she is called a ‘French bunny’, but that’s what the sign said when I bought her); I added the bow because she looked like she needed embellishment. She’s meant to be used outdoors but I’ve always kept her inside; she ‘resides’ in my writing room.
  8. My very favourite bunny of them all – my youngest son in 1989 (he was 3½).  I had made the bunny outfit for him to wear to an Easter party at his pre-school the previous spring (he’d been chosen to hand out the ‘goody bags’ so I decided to have him dress the part); he chose to wear it again for Hallowe’en.

However you choose to celebrate this special time of rebirth and joy, I hope you have as wonderful a weekend as possible.  Happy Easter from … the other side of 55.

My Favourite Bunny

  1. Cathy permalink
    April 8, 2012 11:28 pm

    Good memories! Have a very happy Easter, Margo!

  2. April 8, 2012 5:49 pm

    Hope you are having a wonderful Easter! I have the same PenDelfin bunny! I got him, as a gift for my mother, 40 yrs ago when I was on honeymoon in England.

    • April 9, 2012 2:37 pm

      I’ve had my PenDelfin for at least that long! Enjoy the weekend.


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