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Easter Bunny

The lowdown on the world's most famous Easter costume

There's no story in the Bible about a bunny visiting children's homes and leaving chocolate, so it's natural to wonder when and how the Easter bunny became part of the holiday's lore. The history of the Easter bunny is actually rooted in pagan mythology, with Easter bunnies becoming part of modern celebrations in the 1800s in Germany. Over time, the practice was brought overseas, and caught on in the United States in the later part of the 19th century.

The History of the Easter Bunny

Rabbits were an important symbol of fertility in pagan religions, and like many other Christian symbols, rituals and traditions, they were adapted by Christianity as Christ's teachings and gospels spread throughout the world. Many historians point to the pagan fertility goddess Eostra, who was worshipped by the ancient Anglo-Saxons, as the origination of the Easter bunny. Festivals honoring Eostra were held during the spring -- just as modern-day Easter is -- and rabbits played an important role in these festivals as they were among the most fertile indigenous animals. There is an obvious etymological connection between Eostra and Easter as well.

As far as rabbits being associated with the Christian celebration of Easter, the earliest mentions of this occurred in present-day Germany in the 16th century. By the early 1800s, Germans were celebrating Easter by making rabbit-shaped sugar-coated pastries, which eventually became the familiar chocolate Easter bunnies that are now one of the most recognizable symbols of the holiday.

In the United States, Easter only became a major holiday in the years after the Civil War. By then, German immigrants known as the "Pennsylvania Dutch" had brought their traditions with them, and the Easter bunny made its entry into American popular culture.

Easter Bunnies Today

The Easter bunny appears in many different forms; not only does it form the basis of many candies, chocolates and treats, it is also a popular Easter costume. While Halloween costumes are much more common, some people do enjoy dressing up to celebrate Easter as well. Easter bunny costumes add a fun touch to family gatherings, especially for children, and may be given as gifts to mark the occasion.

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