Sunday, April 8, 2012
Where Did The Easter Bunny Come From?
Last night, my wife and I were sitting around wondering where the Easter Bunny came into the mix, so I decided to do a little research. I was surprised at what I found.
There may not be a more controversial figure in folklore than Peter Cottontale. Many conservative Christians view his cute, cuddly demeanor as a rouse disguising his evil intent to commandeer our remaining Jesus holiday. However startling it is, the Easter Bunny is not the candy conglomerates attempt to make a quick buck.
Like many Christian holidays, Easter actually existed as a Pagan holiday first. When Christianity spread away from Judea, it encountered cultures that already had traditions and beliefs. The Christian missionaries, and early Christians simply retooled the Calendar to center on Jesus rather than Pagan Religion.
The Easter Bunny was already a symbolic part of a Spring fertility celebration....think breeding like rabbits (Source: The Penguin Dictionary of American Folklore, Axelrod and Oster, 2000). It should come as no surprise that early Christians used these traditions as opportunities to share their faith. Paul explains his common ground approach in 1 Corinthians 9:22-23. "22 When I am with those who are weak, I share their weakness, for I want to bring the weak to Christ. Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some. 23 I do everything to spread the Good News and share in its blessings"(NLT).
Just as the Easter Bunny symbolized new life to the Pagans the early Christians encountered, Jesus brings new life to those who believe in him.
So do we give the axe to the Easter Bunny, or give him a pass on this one? Leave your thoughts in the comment box below.