God & The Easter Bunny

The school I went to was partly a boarding school, although I was not a boarder. It was not private, but it fancied itself above the rest in a snotty way. It was all a bit British in tone.

We had school uniforms that included breeches (breeks) that came to just below the knee. This was not Eton or Harrow. It was just St. Bon’s, a school all decked out in Latin names for parts of the school like the  “Aula Maxima,” the “Forum,” the Plaza, and trophies for sports competition like  the “Victor Ludorum.”

A good boy

We also had English style schoolboy ”caps” with crossed flags on the front. It was those caps that we put down at Easter for the Easter Bunny. Now chocolate eggs appeared in those caps only if you had been “a good boy.” That is something that relates very much to Santa Claus and Christmas where reward in the form of gifts on a religious feast is based on behaviour. “He is going to find out who is naughty or nice.” 

The same was true for the Easter Bunny. The Easter  eggs  were only for those who had passed the goodness test. That’s the way she goes in Christianity. 

The question is; What does a bunny rabbit have to do with Easter and Christianity and reward and punishment and miracles? How do rabbits, known as being  prolific breeders, wind up with a place in the Easter  story?  Well, the answer goes way back. Rabbits have been associated with new life and Spring for thousands of years and the ancient Greeks  thought rabbits could reproduce as virgins. That story went on into medieval times. Getting the picture now? That’s when the rabbit became associated with the Virgin Mary and showed up in many paintings of Mary as a reference to her purity and virginity.   

Sacrifice & preparation

The bunny as a giver of eggs as a reward for behaviour received a name; “The Easter Bunny.” It was probably started in protestant Germany and made its way to the New World in the eighteenth century. 

There’s a competing story that Jacob Grimm of Brothers Grimm fairytale fame spread and that is that the Easter Bunny was a pagan tradition from Saxon lore and the Goddess Eostre. Do not believe a word of it! What the Christian Brothers told us was the Easter Bunny origins were as Catholic as St. Peter. 

It all ties together in the Easter and Christmas seasons.  Sacrifice and preparation as in Lent and Advent. Reward, as in Christmas presents and chocolate eggs, and always the fear of punishment; being denied the gifts of the seasons. It is the way it goes.

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