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The Easter Bunny

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The Easter Bunny Around the World
Where'd Dat Bunny Come From?
Evolution of the Easter Basket



The Easter Bunny Around the WorldThe holiday of Easter has given rise to many different versions and ideas of that fluffy-tailed-egg-and-candy-bringer known as the Easter Bunny.

USA

    Here we know the Easter Bunny as "The Easter Bunny".  The look of the Easter Bunny is not as clearly defined as Santa Claus.  He's usually all white with clothes, but other versions have him as yellow or any color.  Sometimes he's not seen wearing clothes.  But one thing DOES link all stories of the Easter Bunny together:  He brings brightly colored eggs, candy, and other gifts before the morning of Easter Sunday.  The Easter Bunny hides the eggs outside for children to find.  The candy and gifts are packaged in a basket inside the house.

Europe

    In the continent of Europe, their version of the Easter Bunny is the Easter Hare. What's the difference between a bunny and a hare? Here are a few tipoffs.

Panama

    In the country of Panama, there is the Easter Conejo ("painted rabbit").

    Conejo has smaller ears than the U.S.A. Easter Bunny and its brown back is covered with white spots like a fawn would have (therefore, "painted").

    A popular rhyme among children about the Conejo goes like this:

"Miss Conejo goes out walking,
when the days are nice and sunny;
she looks like a piggy,
and a little like a bunny!"

Where'd Dat Bunny Come From?:  The legend of the Easter Bunny was not originally an Easter symbol.  It has its origins in Alsace (a region of France) and The Upper Rhineland (an area of Germany).  It's hard to say when this practice first began.  The earliest mention of the Easter Bunny and Easter Eggs was in a German publication in the early 1600s.  It most likely started much sooner.

    The first edible Easter Eggs were made in Germany sometime in the early 1800s and consisted of pastry and sugar.

    So how did the story of the Easter Bunny reach America?  German immigrants who settled in the Pennsylvania Dutch area brought the legend with them in the 1700s.  They called this character the "Osterhase".  The Osterhase didn't hide the eggs outside.  Rather, he sneaked the eggs inside the house and put them in the nest made out of a cap or bonnet.

Evolution of the Easter Basket:

    The Easter Basket and the Easter Bunny are forever linked.  The German tradition had children build brightly colored nests from caps or bonnets, using real hay.  All children would expect at that time were brightly painted, hard-cooked eggs.  Baskets were not common in Germany, nor were they common when Germans first settled in America.  However, as time and technology improved, the caps and bonnets upgraded to baskets.  In the 20th century, baskets went from being hand-made to manufactured.

    The addition of candy came to Easter Baskets somewhere in the 1800s.  There wasn't much for candy until the 1800s.  Once the 1870s hit, candy was everywhere.  But candy was a real novelty for that entire century, and it was added to the baskets to make the day more fun.  Eventually, real eggs were taken out of the baskets altogether and replaced with candy and other presents.  But Easter Eggs weren't done away with; not at all.  The new tradition of the Easter Egg Hunt now began.

    That rascally Easter Bunny now brought the Easter Baskets in the house, filled to heaping with candy and gifts, while he hid the Easter Eggs outside for children to find.

    Another element to Easter Baskets is the jelly bean.  Jelly beans and Easter Baskets are nearly synomynous, but why?  In the 1930s, jelly beans first came out on the market.  People thought they were cool because they looked like bright little Easter Eggs.  Therefore, people started to use jelly beans to dress up an Easter Basket.  Some people like to eat jelly beans, others do not, but everyone admits they look cool.

    Since the 1950s, a lot of people have taken the easy way out and bought pre-made Easter Baskets, but nothing beats the quality of a personally-made Easter Basket.  Parents, make your own Easter Baskets!  Kids CAN tell the difference between a real Easter Basket and a cheaply-made store Basket.  A good Easter Basket makes the day more fun for little ones, and it's not that hard to do, nor is it that expensive.