Though Easter was primarily a religious holiday at our home we also welcomed the pageantry of the Easter celebration with decorations and flair. Every year of my life since age 20 when I became a Mommy, I have decorated our home for Easter and participated in egg dyeing but always this Mom and Asheville Innkeeper pondered the Easter Bunny. Rabbits are "live bearers" and I have often wondered what in the world the Easter bunny had to do with eggs. The tradition is adorable. I mean- what's not to like about beautifully colored eggs being transported in a "cute as a button basket" by none other than an adorable, fluffy and very soft rabbit? Well, except that they don't lay eggs!
The inclusion of eggs in the Easter ritual began in the Roman empire and southwest Germany. The german people actually made the eggs as something of a confection using pastry and sugar as their components.
The people of Germany settling in Pennsylvania Dutch country of the United States are responsible for the Easter bunny also known by the name of "Osterhase" arriving in the United States. The children of the community were to build brightly colored nests, hiding them about. Their rewards were very much driven, as Santa Claus legend goes, by their good behavior as to whether decorated eggs were placed in their baskets.
Eggs, rabbits and hares are long noted as symbols of fertility. The eggs and their fertility quotient coupled with the fact that rabbits not only give birth to large litters but can have these litters several times a year. It is said that female rabbits can actually conceive an entire new warren of bunnies while already in a state of pregnancy giving rise to such popular sayings as, "to breed like bunnies" or to" multiply like rabbits."
Spring, being a time of re-birth and renewal, it is really not too surprising that both rabbits and eggs have taken their place in becoming the quintessential fertility symbol.
It is surmised, though not known that the coloring of the eggs to beautiful shades is tied in some manner to the profusion of flowers spring is known for producing in nearly every color imaginable. In earlier days, the Eastern Orthodoxy typically chose red dye for the eggs as a symbol for the blood of Christ sacrificed on the cross. Green, another popular color, in honor of all the newly noted green shoots sprouting up from the ground as part of the end of winter and Springs abundance.
So, as we all go to the table with our children and grandchildren to begin yet another egg dyeing session and contests to see who can render the most beautiful of specimens- I hope I have provided fodder for what should prove to be an interesting trivia exploration with the younger sect. In thinking of this discussion, I am already laughing thinking of the strange permutations our kids will make in the re-telling of this story to their friends and teachers. I see some interesting days ahead if your child is anything like mine was. Enjoy!
Patti and Gary Wiles Innkeepers At Cumberland Falls Bed and Breakfast Inn Your Asheville Bed and Breakfast