CHARLOTTE: We have all pondered age-old questions. We wonder “Why did the chicken cross the road?” or “Which came first the chicken or the egg?” So, too, every Easter someone always wonders how the Easter Bunny, Easter eggs, and those mouth-watering Easter candy treats came to symbolize Easter.
Here’s the truth: The Easter Bunny with all his confections and the Christian celebration of Easter has nothing to do with the other.
What you need to know about Easter and Easter Bunnies
Since Easter is on its way this week, it seemed like a good opportunity for all of us to study Easter candy and Easter trivia. Ergo, as a Communities Digital News service, we now provide the answers to all (or most) of your pressing questions.
For starters, since there is no mention of bunnies handing out Easter candy – mostly chocolate – to children in the Bible, where did the idea arise? Many analysts believe that the word “Easter” comes from the pagan Anglo-Saxon goddess, Eostre, whose symbols were the egg and the rabbit.
But there’s more.
Easter eggs represented new life for pagans since the celebrations fall during the spring when flowers bloom and there is a sense of rebirth surrounding the season.
Early on, Christians began using eggs and their shells as a symbol of the resurrection of Jesus emerging from his tomb.
So far so good, but how do rabbits and chocolate enter the picture?
In the pagan world, the hare has long been a symbol of fertility and new life. Certainly, no one would question the ability of bunnies to reproduce on a rapid scale.As for chocolate, most observers believe the idea developed in the 19th century in Europe. So what better way to emphasize the fertility legend for children than to make rabbits out of chocolate?
As with so many elements of trivia, various traditions merged over time.
Candy treats and good boys and girls
In Germany during the 16th century, records show Protestants giving the Easter bunny similar status to that of Santa Claus. Therefore, only the best children found a basket with candy confections on Easter.
Logically Easter is the best selling candy holiday in the world after Halloween with over 90 million chocolate Easter bunnies manufactured each year.
As a side note, 76-percent of Americans eat the ears off a chocolate bunny first.
Another popular treat, especially in the United States, is jellybeans. These sweet orbs are eaten at a rate of more than 16 million every Easter. How much are 16 million jellybeans? It’s enough to circle the earth more than three times.
By the way, cherry is the most popular flavor among children who are, of course, the world’s top jellybean experts.
Not to be forgotten, though it has nothing to do with Easter, is that National Jellybean Day is observed on April 22 of each year.
One theory regarding the coloration of Easter eggs is that they were originally dyed red to memorialize the blood of Jesus during the crucifixion.
In the 13th century, however, the church prohibited eating eggs during Holy Week. A custom began whereby eggs laid during that week were set aside, eventually leading to the tradition of decorating them in bright colors and patterns.
Another belief arises from medieval English kings who sent hundreds of decorated, gold-leafed eggs throughout the royal household at Easter.
Now that we’ve covered chocolate Easter bunnies and Easter eggs, we would be remiss if we failed to mention marshmallow peeps.
The tiny chicken marshmallow treats are popular. During the season a whopping five million Peeps are eaten every day!
Meanwhile, as a service to “peep eaters” we offer a tip from “peep connoisseurs” who swear that the best way to eat them is to let them breath for a few day.
Leave them out in the open air produces a crunchy outside and a chewy inside.
New York’s Easter Parade is easily the most famous, but did you know that it began when women used to show off their new Easter bonnets on the way to worship at St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Fifth Avenue?
Eventually, the colorful annual event became the Big Apple’s Easter Parade. It was also immortalized as a popular song.
Just for housekeeping, a couple of miscellaneous notes. The Easter egg toss dates to a medieval church where a priest would throw a hard-boiled egg to a choir boy who would then quickly flip it to someone else. When the priest shouts “time’s up” the boy who has the egg keeps it.
As for non-edible eggs, Russian Czar Alexander commissioned Peter Carl Faberge to create an Easter gift for his wife Marie in 1883. Today, the priceless Faberge eggs are world famous collector’s items.
And finally one important healthy note about eggs is that they contain every known essential nutrient for humans.
Easter: Guided by Luna, not the calendar
As with many pagan traditions, Easter is based upon lunar movements rather than solar. Thus, the celebration of Easter is a “movable feast” which occurs annually between March 22 and April 25.
So, just grab some chocolate rabbit ears, a handful of eggs, a bag of jellybeans and a three-day-old marshmallow peep and go have a feast.
About the Author:
Bob Taylor is a veteran writer who has traveled throughout the world. Taylor was an award winning television producer/reporter/anchor before focusing on writing about international events, people and cultures around the globe. Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com).