When it comes to the Easter Bunny, we've been far too willing to accept this strange holiday mascot as is. Santa may raise some eyebrows with his staff of elven labourers and no one really knows what the Tooth Fairy does with our teeth, but this egg-laying rabbit is a biological singularity that deserves a second look. We've taken a stab at tracing our furry friend's evolution, from Paganism to German folklore to worldwide fame.
In nature-based faiths, like Paganism, the rabbit or hare has long been associated with this time of year. Vernal Equinox celebrations, called Ostara or Eostre for the goddess of springtime, employ the rabbit as a symbol of fertility (prolific animals that they are). Eggs represent similar themes of new life and rebirth — and thus, we can draw the initially impenetrable connection between the Bunny and the eggs it delivers.
Eventually, the rabbit came to be seen as a messenger for this goddess, particularly in early German cultures. They believed rabbits laid eggs and signalled the start of springtime. Even as Christianity permeated the country and Eostre became Easter, rabbits remained part of the celebration. So much, in fact, that German immigrants spread the custom worldwide in the 1700s.
Now that we have a clearer idea of the Easter Bunny's history, we're just going to have to make our peace with the fact that what's now considered a child-friendly holiday symbol came to be just because rabbits have a lot of sex. Happy Easter!