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
10 thoughts on “Acceptable Lies We Tell Our Children”
My children are 12 and 14. And I have no clue how I have kept up the myths but they both still believe. I hats lies, but I think imagination is healthy. We ask our children to believe a lot of things they can’t see. The question is when does it go from healthy imagination to something detrimental.
It is tricky. And I don’t mind make believe and I endorse it, really. It’s just the thought of a giant rabbit sneaking into my house is a little too frightening. If only the myth symbol was something a little less….creepy.
We quit doing the Easter Bunny thing years ago. It made no sense to me, added nothing to the holiday, and distracted from what I felt should be a religious holiday. We dye eggs because that was a big part of my childhood, and we hide a few plastic filled eggs around the house, but we make it clear it was Mom and Dad’s doing.
I’d like to get rid of Santa Claus, but the girls love him (the little ones, even though the six-year-olds asked if he was real once and I told them no). I think Santa is more complimentary to the whole Christmas thing than the Easter Bunny is at Easter. And I’ve realized that sometimes kids want to believe just because it’s fun.
The one big puzzler is that my twins believe in leprechauns. I mean, think they’re absolutely factually in existence – and they find them terrifying. I don’t spoil that one, I guess because I think it’s kind of funny.
So, finding out about the Easter Bunny didn’t deter them from Santa? I know I pretended to believe longer than I actually did (about SC) because I didn’t want the magic to disappear.
That is so funny about the leprechauns. And the reason you’re letting them believe is just as funny!
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I’m so glad that my parents didn’t tell me about Easter bunny’s and all the other seasonal stories as well! I did of course know about them (not their origins – that came later) but I learnt about them purely because it was difficult to miss them! In some ways my brother and I did miss out on some fun, especially not keeping Christmas, but at least our parents weren’t as hard as some were in our church. They at least let us keep any presents we received from relatives and friends and I do remember every year a very large Easter egg arriving in the post from an aunt and uncle of mine – that was soooo exciting!! 🙂 But it took me years to understand what on earth bunny’s and eggs had to do with each other, or how they related to Jesus dying! I eventually understood it all – and what a mixed up nonsense it is!! 😐 It’s really weird to mix more than one tradition or belief together. But I guess it was the only way those pagans were going to get Christian converts to their belief. I don’t think I would have been impressed though! 😦
It’s good that your Dad told your brother when he was still very young – and it came from him, not someone else. There can’t be anything worse than a child coming home from school, having been laughed at because they believed something that all their friends now know isn’t true and asking their Mum or Dad “Did you lie to me about bunny’s laying eggs?” Not a good way to get your children to trust everything you say ever again!
I didn’t really understand how freaky the whole Easter Bunny myth was until I was older and realized – that is really freaky! And it is weird that all the traditions get mixed (and overcrowd) the real reason of the season. I’m not sure how into the Easter Bunny thing I would have been if I had been a mom. Luckily, I never had to find out! A giant bunny is just really, really weird. And no, it has nothing to do with Easter at all – yet there it prominently sits!
I know this a slightly old post, but had to comment. Growing up the ‘Easter bunny’ never came on Easter. We celebrated spring and we celebrated the resurrection of the Savior but not on the same day. Passing that tradition on to my children. I think it’s great to celebrate spring coming (plus Easter candy is super yummy), but on Easter we focus only on the Savior. And yes the giant man shaped Easter bunny is creepy! I’ve honestly never thought about it that way, more of a peter cottontail or Brer Rabbit type creature. Sorry this comment is so long.
Ps if it lays eggs it should have been an Easter chicken. Speaking of lies, a bunny laying eggs? That will make biology confusing sometime.
That’s a good idea to keep them separate.
I really don’t think this whole bunny thing was thoroughly thought through. Bunnies laying eggs are only cute in Cadberry commercials. And have there ever been any theories in how the Easter Bunny can hit every house in one night? Santa has his sleigh – does the Easter Bunny seriously hop from house to house?
Hmm… maybe there’s no theories on it because by the time kids get to the age to question such things they realize, “Nah, that can’t happen.”
I’m just glad there aren’t a million Hallmark movies about the Easter Bunny playing matchmaker. Ugh. Just the thought of it may keep me up tonight!