How the Easter Bunny tradition began isn’t entirely clear; however, Germany has been credited with the origin of associating a bunny with Easter. In 16th century literature, there are accounts of a bunny who, each spring, would reward the good with eggs. The first edible Easter bunnies, made out of pastry and sugar, were made in Germany during the early 1800s.
Prior to the Christian holiday of Easter, the hare and rabbit showed up often in pre-Christian fertility lore. These animals often served as symbols of new life during the spring season.
In America, the Easter Bunny was introduced by the German settlers who arrived in the Pennsylvania Dutch country during the 1700s. The arrival of what they referred to the bunny as “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.
The children would build their nest in a secluded place in the home, the barn or the garden. Boys would use their caps and girls their bonnets to make the nests. The use of elaborate Easter baskets would come later as the tradition of the Easter bunny spread throughout the country.
Happy Easter! Happy Passover! Happy Spring.