CHICK HUETTEL: Following the bunny trail to Easter traditions

Published: Thursday, March 28, 2013 at 05:06 PM.

When the Christian monks in the 300s A.D. period came to England and points north, they encountered a goddess named “Eastre” that the Saxons and northern Germanic tribes worshiped.

She was the goddess of fertility, and you guessed it … her symbol was the bunny.

The chicken and the rabbit were considered the most fertile of domestic animals and so the fuzzy fellow and the little yellow chicken were venerated to thank Eastre.

The monk missionaries found that the Christ’s resurrection almost coincided with the celebration of Eastra, and to not upset the old worship standards of the pagans, they found it easier to incorporate the celebration into the same period.

The egg was also considered the emblem of new life by the ancient tribes so the rabbit, chicken, and egg all fit together nicely. 

Christian Easter slowly replaced the worship of Eastre and the various Christianized northern countries adapted the two festivities along with Peter Cottontail. By the 1500s, the events meshed together. While Easter recognized the resurrection of Christ, the ancient ritual of glorifying the rabbit found a secure place within the spring celebration. 

The introduction of the Eastre rabbit was given to us in America by the German settlers.

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