Sunday, April 24, 2011

THE EASTER BUNNY

Spoiler alert!  Spoiler alert!  If you are a young child and you are reading this, you need to stop right now and go find something else to read.  I mean it!  Stop reading right now or you will be sorry!

Okay, you have been warned.  Now I will tell you this sad truth:  the Easter Bunny isn't real.  He is what you call a mythical creature.  And the way we know this is because (1) rabbits cannot lay eggs, and (2) even if they could lay eggs, there is no way that one bunny could deliver eggs to every house in one night.  This is kind of the same problem as with Santa Claus, but that is a whole different holiday.  And also, no one ever said Santa Claus could lay eggs.

So how did this myth of the Easter Bunny get started?  Well, it is a very old myth, and it probably goes all the way back to the 13th Century in Germany, before people started being Christians.  In those days, they worshipped a bunch of different gods and goddesses, and one of them was called Eostra.  She was the goddess of spring and fertility, and the rabbit was her sacred animal because rabbits can make lots of baby rabbits in a very short time.



Meanwhile, the Saxons had a goddess named Oestre or Eastre, who was the goddess of the dawn and the spring.  In Germany, she was called Ostara, and she was a fertility goddess.  All these different names are kind of confusing, but as you can see, they are also all similar, and the word Easter comes from the name of this spring goddess.

Here's a story about the goddess Ostara that is pretty interesting.  One year, Ostara arrived late, and she found a little bird whose wings had been frozen by the snow.  So she made a pet of him, and since he couldn't fly anymore, she turned him into a snow hare with the gift of being able to run really fast.  And because he had been a bird before, she gave him the ability to lay eggs, just like birds do.  The eggs were all different colors and they were really pretty, but the hare could only lay eggs one day out of the whole year.



Easter Bunny Cavalry

Later on, the hare made Ostara angry, so she threw him up into the sky, where he became the constellation Lepus, the Hare, and he always had to be under the feet of the constellation Orion, the Hunter.  But one day each spring, he was allowed to come back to earth and give away his eggs to the children who came to the festivals in honor of Ostara.

There are some other stories about how the Easter Bunny got his start, but I decided to tell you that one because I liked it the best.

Easter Bunny Chorus Line
Anyway, the tradition of a rabbit bringing Easter eggs to children mostly seems to have started in Alsace, the Upper Rhineland, and southwestern Germany.  The first record of it was in a German publication in the 1500s, and in about 1680, the first story about a rabbit laying eggs and hiding them in a garden was published.  In the early 19th century, the first Easter eggs that you could eat were made of pastry and sugar, also in Germany.

When German settlers came to Pennsylvania Dutch country in the 18th century, they brought the Easter Bunny legend with them.  On the night before Easter, children would make nests out of bonnets and caps, and then they would put these in some hidden part of their houses.  If the children had been good, the Easter Hare would come and lay colorful eggs in the nests.

Nowadays, children do not have to make nests for the Easter Bunny to lay eggs in, because the Bunny just brings the eggs in a basket.  Sometimes there are also toys and candy and other goodies, too.  Sometimes the Easter Bunny even drops eggs from a helicopter, which means he can get more eggs to more children in a shorter length of time.  But the children can't stand under the helicopter while the eggs are being dropped, because someone might get killed by a falling egg, which would be very sad.

Oh, and speaking of Easter eggs, here's a little trivia:  the largest Easter egg ever made was more than 25 feet high and weighed over 8,000 pounds.  It was made by the Belgian chocolate company Guylian in the city of St. Niklaas.  It took more than 50,000 chocolate bars to make this egg, and it had a steel frame inside it to hold it up.

Just think how big a bunny would have to be to lay an egg like that, and also think how fat you would get if you ate it!

2 comments:

  1. Wait why was the godess Ostara angry at the bunny in the first place? What's the dufference between Bunnies and rabbits? I prefer bunny if there is no difference!!

    Tas

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  2. The story I read did not explain why Ostara was angry at the bunny, so I guess you will have to make up your own reason! I think bunnies are the same as rabbits. "Bunny" is just a more cute, affectionate word for a rabbit.
    Love, Piper

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