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How did the Easter Bunny and eggs become linked?

Happy Easter, everyone!

Now a little history (and trivia for the dinner table?) before you enjoy the day, remember the reason for the season, eat lots of food, and stuff yourself with chocolate.

Do you have an Easter tradition?

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via Sarah Barmak
Toronto Star

Every spring, children celebrating Easter absorb a peculiar notion they will never hear in school: bunnies and eggs share a special bond. Rabbits and chickens aren’t the same species but, somehow, the two are indelibly linked.

What is the origin of the Easter Bunny, exactly? He certainly doesn’t come from the Bible, which makes no mention of a long-eared, furry creature in the chapters dealing with Jesus’s resurrection.

Brought to North America by German immigrants in the 1700s, the tale of the Easter Bunny has its roots in European folklore.

In pagan tradition, the rabbit was revered as a symbol of spring for its fecundity. In other words, bunnies breed like mad.

In fact, they have a special talent: females can become pregnant with a second litter while they’re still carrying their first, a phenomenon known as “superfetation.” Impressive!

German pagan groups were so taken with rabbits’ baby-making powers that they made them the official animal of Eostra, the goddess of spring and fertility.

Eggs are natural symbols of reproduction, and the two symbols became associated in German legends about rabbits laying eggs. A tradition of making nests for the rabbits began, and the nests eventually became baskets.

It was a logical step from there to Easter Bunny greeting cards, cartoons and merchandising, of course.

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