I fully realize this topic may be considered trite. But I’m jumping in anyway. How did we as a culture accept something as disconcerting as a giant-egg-hiding-rabbit known as the Easter Bunny? I googled it to discover the mastermind behind the mutant-hare lore. Let me enlighten you.
According to easterbunny.net (yes, even freaky mythical creatures have their own website):
The Easter bunny has its origin in pre-Christian fertility lore. The Hare and the Rabbit were the most fertile animals known and they served as symbols of the new life during the Spring season.
The bunny as an Easter symbol seems to have it’s origins in Germany, where it was first mentioned in German writings in the 1500s. The first edible Easter bunnies were made in Germany during the early 1800s. These were made of pastry and sugar.
The Easter bunny was introduced to American folklore by the German settlers who arrived in the Pennsylvania Dutch country during the 1700s. The arrival of the “Oschter Haws” was considered “childhood’s greatest pleasure” next to a visit from Christ-Kindel on Christmas Eve. The children believed that if they were good the “Oschter Haws” would lay a nest of colored eggs.
So, basically it’s a pagan tradition with a sprinkle of Christian symbolism forced on it later and watered down with time to achieve arguably the scariest lie we tell children. A one-two punch to perpetuate the need for therapy as adults.
Now, I’m no Dorey Walker. I have whimsy. I’m pro-Santa, after all. Sure, we spend the first few years of child’s life lying, sneaking, and being tricky. But it’s all in fun. And children are resilient. They tend to forgive us for the deceit once they get initiated into “the know.”
It’s not a double standard. There is a difference – humongous difference- between a benevolent, rotund man and a monster like rabbit. Regular-sized rabbits = cute. Giant, man-sized rabbits = creepy.
My brother often tells the story of how he found out the truth. Apparently, dad bluntly told him. When he was still very young and all his friends still believed. I have to agree with dad on this one. True, once RH found out about the truth about the bunny, it didn’t take long to connect the dots about Santa, the Tooth Fairy, and pretty much all the (wink, wink) gift giving creatures. Hence the dilemma. I guess that’s why the myth has flourished over the years. Either we indulge the lie or else we are kill-joys.
So the Easter Bunny legend lives on. Because who wants to be the one ‘fess up?
originally published April 9, 2012