Why the Bunny?

 Have you ever wondered why we have bunnies at Easter time? Chocolate bunnies, eggs with bunnies on, greetings cards with bunnies?

Or why we have chicks? Or eggs? Or artistic photos of sunrise? Ever wondered what, exactly, they have to do with the Easter story? I have many times sat in churches where this same question is asked: “Now children,” (because for some reason, the preacher always thinks the children are the best people to answer this question) “Now children, who can tell me why we have eggs at Easter?” (Or bunnies, or chicks…or sunrise.) Someone (usually an adult) will then say that we have eggs (or bunnies, or chicks…you get the picture) because they represent new life, and Easter is all about new life. However, this reason is not, actually, true…

Way before we began to even think about God or Jesus or the stories in the New Testament (such as the resurrection story) we were pagans. (I use ‘we’ lightly here, I am not suggesting that you personally were a pagan, more the people who populated this green and pleasant land.) Every year, there was a festival, in honour of the goddess Eastre (sometimes spelt with an ‘o’) who was the goddess of fertility. People gave gifts that represented fertility, such as eggs or chicks…or bunnies, and she was thought to be represented by the rising sun.

Later, the Christians came, and wanted to have a time when they remembered that their faith is based on the fact that Jesus didn’t stay dead; they wanted to celebrate that Jesus is still alive, and that we can come to God because he will accept us. Someone (probably a committee) decided that the pagan festival to Eastre was a good time to pick (I guess because it coincided with the Jewish Passover festival, which was when Jesus was killed). The christians therefore chose, at this time, to celebrate that Jesus is alive, and all the other symbols were floating around, so they sort of got muddled in.

I assume the changing of the gifts to chocolate based ones had nothing to do with the Christians, and was more because modern children wouldn’t be very excited if given a real egg (and their parents would make a fuss if you gave the child a real chick or bunny). Though it would be nice if this was due to the Christians, as I’m rather partial to chocolate.

So, does it matter that we no longer remember why we have the bunny? I guess not…other than sometimes Christians can be rather smug and slightly superior to those outside of the church. Our religion has evolved, over time we have adapted to the world around us – God hasn’t changed, but aspects of our religion have. Perhaps Easter should remind us to be humble, remind us that there are some things we do in church that we don’t even remember why we do them, and that we don’t always have all the answers.


Thanks for reading. Hope you have a happy time this Easter.
Take care,
Love, Anne x


The festival was for Eastre,
Goddess of fertility
But they swept it away
With a cross of humility.
They took over the sunrise
Coloured eggs were hidden,
They introduced religion
And pagans were forbidden.

Then the bunnies
Hopped back,
With the chicks
And the eggs.
Spring flowers
In bright posies
Feast times with friends
And fun with families.

But beneath it all
Well hidden within,
Was a story of death
And the blackness of sin.
The anguish of God
Turning his back.
A story of tears
When the world went black.
That tragic tale,
Which wont go away,
Has a promise of peace
That we long for today.
And the torture and pain
And despair of that day,
Is why God turns and listens
When we kneel and pray.


Anne E. Thompson has written several novels. They are available from bookshops and Amazon.
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