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In the Christian world, Easter is a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  On the third day after his crucifixion ( which is remembered on Good Friday), the New Testament tells us that Jesus rose from the grave, appeared to his disciples and ultimately ascended to Heaven.  It is this act that is celebrated by Christians every year on Easter Sunday.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the origan of Easter, where then does the Easter Bunny come from?  There is no mention of the Easter Bunny in the Bible, and except for its modern association with Easter the rabbit has not been a Christian symbol. Where then does the tradition come from?

In the ancient world, the rabbit has long been a symbol of fertility.  In Europe prior to the introduction of Christianity the ancient pagans already had their own springtime festivals, as did almost all other ancient peoples. 

The Goddess of fertility in Northen Europe before the coming of the Christians was Eostre.  It is in fact from her that our own word for Easter comes.  The consort of Eostre was none other than a hare, that great animal symbol of fertility.  According to some traditions, Eostre cast the hare into the Heavens, creating the constellation we know today as Lepus the Hare.  Some stories also say that Eostre gave Lepus the ability to lay eggs once a year, eggs also being an ancient symbol of fertility.

As Christianity expanded north from the Mediterranean world where it was born and first grew, it was common for Christians to attempt to incorporate pre-Christian ideas and rituals and place them within the context of Christian ideas and rituals. creating a mix of both Christian and Pagan.

These traditions c0-existed for some time.  When exactly the rabbit first became a major part of the Christian celebration is unknown.  The first written mentions of the Easter Bunny come from Germany in the 15th Century.

Although begun by German immigrants, these practices soon caught on throughout the United States and are now almost universally practiced.  Christians and non-Christians alike look forward to Easter as a celebration of life and family, and the Easter Bunny, that ancient symbol of fertility, is the central figure.  Across the country and around the world children wait eagerly for Easter to find the Basket full of eggs and chocolate left for them the night before by the Easter Bunny.

Published by Allen Butler:  Allen is a freelance writer and tutor.

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