Minor British Institutions: The Easter Bunny
Saturday 16 April 2011
The Easter Bunny is, in fact, a hare. This confusion is but one of the myriad entanglements surrounding the spring celebration of fertility and resurrection adopted by Christianity.
You will note that Easter's date is still fixed by the spring equinox, and follows the Jewish remembrance of the Passover, with its sacrifice of the lamb.
Easter was said by Bede to be derived from the Anglo-Saxon goddess, Eostre; he's the only authority for this, but he is a saint. The bunny-hare thing is a common confusion, especially as, in matters of fertility, hares go at it like rabbits.
But the hare has always been the more magical creature, as anybody who's been stared at by one will know. The circular symbol of the Three Hares, in which the hares share three ears, features in Chinese temples and West Country churches without convincing explanation – also the case with why the Bunny lays eggs. But do have a good one, whatever you or it may be.
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