It is believed that Easter actually gets its name from an Old English word, Ēastre, that was given to the month of April in honor of a pagan goddess, Ēastermōnaþ.
This goddess is believed to have been the deity associated with spring and fertility and some Easter symbols that we would recognize today – eggs and rabbits, or hares – were used during this celebration.
In addition, feasts were held in her honor, but by the 8th century, these had given way to the Christian festival of Easter, which celebrates the death and resurrection of Jesus.
Most of the information on this theory of how Easter got its name comes from Bede, a monk in what is today England.
Jacob Grimm, one of the two brothers famous for their collection of old stories and myths, supported Bede’s claims on the origin of the name Easter although scholars dispute this theory.
However – and wherever – Easter got its name, it is celebrated by more than one in three people in the world.
My five year old nephew asked the other day, “Why is there an Easter bunny that brings eggs if only birds can lay eggs?”
It’s a great question – and one countless other children have asked.
Here are five reasons why the Easter Bunny – and not the Easter Birdie – brings those eggs around on Easter Sunday morning.
- Rabbits are a traditional symbol of spring because they are known for their fertility.
- Rabbits – and their ability to have so many offspring – encourage hope in a better, brighter future that is abundantly fruitful.
- An egg-laying rabbit speaks to people’s desire for something mystical and magical in their spring celebrations. It’s a little like magic when flowers break through the frozen ground and free people from the long, hard winter.
- Rabbits symbolize innocence and wonder, childlike qualities that correspond with the rebirth and rejuvenation people feel when spring returns.
- Like the lamb, rabbits are associated with religious sacrifice; Easter is a time when Christians celebrate the sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus.
I’m not sure if any of these reasons will satisfy my inquisitive nephew, but it may satisfy the curiosity of some adults who have often pondered the same question.