So, What’s With the Bunnies?

rabbit chocolate

Photo by Giftpundits.com on Pexels.com

Recently a fellow blogger and I were discussing religious traditions. She had a question about Easter and asked, “So, what’s with the bunnies?” I thought I would take the time this week to answer that question. It’s one that I asked myself years ago and here are some of the things I discovered.

Easter, like Christmas, has symbols associated with it that are both religious and secular. Originally, Easter was not called Easter by the Christians. It was celebrated on the first Sunday after Passover as the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. The symbols that were associated with the Resurrection are the cross, the lamb and the empty tomb. In Latin, it was called Pascha, a word derived from the Hebrew Pesach – meaning Passover. The date changes every year depending on when the Hebrew Passover is celebrated. It has always been the highest Holy Day of the Christian religion. It is the climax of their Holy Week; Christ’s last week on earth before he was crucified and rose from the dead. 

So again, “What’s with the bunnies?” For Millennia in the pagan tradition, the end of Winter advent of Spring has been celebrated. Symbols of fertility, rabbits and eggs, have been part of that tradition. Fertility goddesses and stories surrounding them have been at the center of the pagan tradition. Some believe the Sumerian goddess, Ishtar, was central to the celebration early on. As the centuries passed, Ishtar morphed into the Canaanite goddess, Astarte, then into the Greek goddess Aphrodite and finally into the Roman goddess Venus. You can hear the similarity between the words Ishtar and Easter and can see how the celebration could have gotten its name. Others think that perhaps it was named after another goddess called Eostre, the goddess of Spring. 

That being said, how did two completely different traditions become comingled? Early in the fourth century A.D., Christianity became the main religion of the Roman Empire. However, it was not the only religion. Pagan traditions continued on and slowly some of the symbols associated with the pagan celebration crept into the Christian tradition. The pagan celebration of Spring was gradually moved on the calendar until it took place at the same time as the Christian holiday. Fast forward to the twenty-first century and you find that Easter is celebrated as both a secular and a religious holiday. Many people with children will color eggs, fill baskets with chocolate bunnies and have a large family dinner. That constitutes the secular celebration of Easter. Christians may also color eggs, give their children chocolate bunnies, and have a large family dinner. Their main focus however, will be to gather with other Christians to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

Many people today do not question the symbolism associated with this holiday. However, a deeper look will show two completely different traditions whose trajectory has merged culturally throughout the last two Millennia.

Note: This is the abridged answer to the question, “What’s with the bunnies?”  Many of the facts about the Pagan celebration were taken from the article: The Ancient Pagan Origins of Easter by Joanna Gillan published April 18, 2019 on the website Ancient Origins.

24 thoughts on “So, What’s With the Bunnies?

  1. Interesting post . I still love chocolate bunnies 🍫🐇& coloring eggs🐣🥚.

    When our kids where home, our Easter breakfast always started with a story.
    – My husband took one of our colored eggs
    – As he cracked it, he explained that the shell is like our hearts before we let Jesus in
    – The white symbolizes how Jesus washes us clean
    – The yolk is Christ’s light shining in us.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. It makes me very sad to recognize how even my very conservative Church puts on elaborate Easter egg hunts. I recognize that Christians often do Pagan things because of the church’s trying to evangelize the Lost, but it is confusing to lost folks when we don’t present a clear message.
    The scripture plainly instructs us to “come out from among them and be ye separate.” It also says, “be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
    Mixing a true message with a lie is confusing to children. It was confusing to me as a child and led to my rejecting God for many years. It is sad that Christ’s birth (Who He is) and His death and resurrection (what he came to do) have been successfully overshadowed by the world’s lies.
    I thank God for his Amazing Grace in challenging me to actually READ His Word, understand His truth, and saving me.

    Liked by 2 people

    • So happy for your input! Sometimes, I believe the church does things out of ignorance, not really trying to conform to the world. We need to be more aware of our spiritual roots! So pleased you came back to the One and Only Who rose from the Dead! ❤❤❤❤

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  3. Hi Valerie! I loved this post for several reasons. The biggest is that it is not a rejection of tradition but the realization that many Christian traditions are influenced by pagan rituals. Just as the Romans did in military actions they continued with Christianity. That is they assimilated the conquered by adapting what they could for their own purposes and destroying what didn’t help them… So we have bunnies and eggs on Easter. These however do not detract from the central message that Christ is risen!

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    • Thank you so much for another point of view! I appreciate everyone’s experience and beliefs! Let us follow our own consciences when it comes to celebrating the Lord’s resurrection! God Bless You! ❤❤❤❤

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  4. Great job Val! I had no idea! I guessed spring, but it makes me want to throw the little pink ceramic bunny on my mantel outside and put up a cross! (Trust me, I have crosses everywhere too!)

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    • God is good, Meg! It is important to know our roots. One article I read said that in the 1500’s, there was a bunny in the artwork that was relating to Easter….so the symbols have been assimilated for a long time. The main thing, I believe, is that our heart is in the right place! So hope you and your family are well!!! ❤❤❤❤

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you Dear Val for clearing the cobwebs and helping me put it all into perspective. Very interesting as a practicing Hindu who grew with Christian family. Im going to share this and reblog it. Bless you Val. Enjoy all that the weekend brings and stay safe. 🤗

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