Saturday, April 7, 2007

Why Easter Eggs?

Well all know the story. A giant rabbit, presumably escaped from a mental hutch, runs amok and plants eggs for children to find. Oh sure, it seems innocent enough, but we all sense that, like the world of Winnie the Pooh, something is just not...quite...right. I'm sure he means well, but eggs? COLORED eggs? I mean, What's going ON here, anyway? Who is this rabbit, and why is he terrorizing the local chickens with his egg-stealing racket? Well, here are a few fun-facts to put your mind at ease.

- Like many holiday traditions, decorated eggs go further back than the holiday itself. Both eggs and rabbits are ancient symbols of fertility - if you need an explanation of why, just buy yourself some rabbits and you will find out in a hop, skip, and...oh never mind.

- The Persians painted eggs for their New Years celebration, which for them fell around the Spring Equinox. The resulting egg fights may or may not have blotted out the sun, depending on the uptightness of the historian consulted.

- It is possible eggs may symbolize the ending of lent, since some Christian groups prohibited eggs and dairy products during the period.

- Legend has it that Mary Magdalene presented the Roman Emperor with a red-colored egg, symbolizing Christ's breaking out of his tomb and his blood saving the world. Imagine the guts it took to do this - not just another pretty face!

- Although the origins of the Easter Bunny are not clear, the big fellow began showing up in the United States around the 18th century. The Pennsylvania Dutch called him "Osterhase", which besides being far more cool sounding, indicates his identification in their tradition as a "hare" rather than rabbit. Unfortunately, Elmer Fudd is currently in hunting litigation and unavailable for comment.

- There are modern references to the Germanic Goddess Eostre concerning the Easter Bunny. According to the ancient writer Bede, Eostre and her worship is origin of the name "Easter". A recent Pagan tradition tells of Eostre finding a wounded bird in the snow, then transforming it into a rabbit so it can survive. However, it retained the ability to lay eggs. Although this tradition didn't surface until 1900, the powers of the transformed rabbit distinguish it as the world's first "X-Animal".

- The White House Easter Egg Roll dates back at least to the early 19th century. Dolley Madison may have first suggested doing a public egg-roll, although the first official White House Lawn Egg Roll took place in 1878. Today, hundreds of kids hit the lawn each year in a fun-filled celebration, safe in the knowledge that the Easter Bunny is thoroughly frisked by Homeland Security.

Well, that's all for now. There is more to the story, of course, but I'm too busy stuffing my face with chocolate bunnies, and I recommend you do the same. What are you waiting for? Those cute little bunnies are staring at you, aren't they? Their delicious little ears are poking out, beckoning. You want those ears. You NEED those ears! It is useless to resist!


Anniina said...

Ohh, awesome info. <3 your articles!

Amy said...

I want to know more!!

LisaBinDaCity said...

I used to eat my chocolate Easter bunnies from the bottom up so they would last longer. Imagine my horror when I came in one day to encounter a HEADLESS BUNNY! My father had eaten it. I cried for hours lol.

Loved the history lesson as always.

Jarod said...

Thanks Anniina
Amy - I'm sure the Bunny will reveal all in the great Hasenfeffer Gathering of 2012
Lisa - Wise, my friend, eating from the bottom up - a true saver for the future!

Noelle said...

Well, we can say with certainty that Easter traditions did not start in my kitchen, because yesterday when my "empty the eggs and fill them with chocolate" experiment went COMPLETELY awry. Six perfectly good eggs gave their lives for no reason.

Anniina said...

I like the expanded version too! Especially the transmogrified mutant bunny. Go Eostre! Leave it to a goddess to say "but what about the other white meat?"

BlondebutBright said...

Wow, great information! It's funny how often we don't give these traditions too much thought - just goes to show that there's nothing ambiguous about our strange ways of celebrating.

Andy said...

When I was 15 in Italy on a class trip, yes the high school my mother taught at had spring breaks to Europe. She was the chaperon and I benefited. It was Easter Sunday and the hotel gave us a Easter meal I will never forget. It was the bunny itself. We had rabbit for dinner. Nobody knew about it until mid way through the meal.

You should've seen the look on some of the kids faces. "Oh my god I ate the Easter Bunny!" I didn't like it because it was to dry, needed some gravy.