How did a bunny become associated with a Christian holiday?

By Rebekah Karp, Staff Writer/Artist

There is a mystery more profound than Bigfoot, more intense than the fury of the Bermuda triangle, more known than the Loch Ness Monster and more marveled than the rocks at Stonehenge. That mystery is who put the bunny in Easter? 

The origin of the creature that blesses the children of the world with baskets of presents and jelly beans is much up for debate. How did a Christian holiday become what it is today? Now, the celebration of Easter, as most of us know, started as a celebration of life. Jesus’ life to be more precise, but also, set in spring, the life of nature around us. Some say that is where the bunny came originated. The animal is a well-known symbol of fertility and new life, which could be why it is the mascot of Easter celebrations today. 

Now for the egg situation. Dating back to the 13th century and onward, most congregations gave up eggs for Lent. In the 19th century, a tradition arose in Russia of going all out and decorating eggs on Easter. Years passed, and some believe these traditions morphed together: the symbol of new life (rabbit) bringing the gift of fancy eggs which were to be consumed on Easter, the day that Lent ends. 

Now, there are also other theories on how the tradition came about since the U.S. is the main source of the bunny mascot. In various parts of the world, Easter is symbolized with birds of different sorts, such as cuckoos, or other spring animals. 

Now, for my favorite part, why the jelly beans? Jelly beans became associated with Easter in the early 1930s in the U.S. They were made in the shape of eggs and thought to be a perfect candy for a holiday already tied to eggs. There is a reason behind these candies, though. 

In biblical days, there was a delicacy called Turkish delight (ring a bell, Narnia fans?). Turkish delight was a dessert made with a doughy exterior and a jelly interior. Jelly beans officially were created in 1861; however, many historians believe that they have actually been around for a while. They were once called Turkish delight, a treat that was often served on Easter. A full circle!

So, whether or not the mystery of the Easter Bunny had been on your mind, there does seem to be theories and solutions to all of the unanswered questions we have. Until the carrots I leave out stop being eaten and the bag of jelly beans stop appearing in my living room Easter morning, I’ll believe that maybe the Easter Bunny just really likes eggs and wants to share them with the world. 

Happy Easter, everyone!