The Easter Bunny. Have you ever wondered how a rabbit and chocolate eggs became associated with Easter? Wasn’t it supposed to be about the resurrection of Jesus. Well if you Google it you can find out, but let me save you the time and effort.
The exact origins of the famous bunny are unclear however many sites have stated that it may have come from pre-Christian Germany. The hare was said to be the symbol of the pagan Goddess of Spring and Fertility, Eostre or Ostara. As anyone who is familiar with hares or rabbits will know, they are a great symbol for fertility as they have great ‘stamina’.
As Christianity spread throughout Europe, missionaries incorporated pagan festivals and traditions into Christian holidays. The festival of Eostre and the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus soon became intertwined and the Christian holiday Easter was born. The pagans brought with them the image of the hare and some will argue the egg.
The Germans changed the image of the rabbit into Oschter Haws, a rabbit who would lay a nest of coloured eggs for good children on the night before Easter. Children would build a nest for Oshter Haws to lay his eggs in. German writings from the 17th century mention Oschter Haws and the legend was brought to America in the 1700s by German emigrants. The chocolate rabbit was also a product of German emigrants as they made Oshter Haws pastries.
As the legend and popularity of Oshter Haws spread throughout the States, he soon became the Easter Bunny.
Thus one can assume that the relationship between Easter and a rabbit can be traced back to the pagan celebration of Eostre.
Eggs have always been a part of spring celebrations. They have been a symbol of fertility and rebirth to pagans, while representing the resurrection of Jesus to Christians.
The tradition of decorating and painting eggs has been around for centuries in Europe. Each country would paint their eggs a different colour and design such as Greece having crimson coloured eggs or Austria having eggs with plant based designs. In the 18th and 19th centuries artificial eggs were given as gifts.
The first chocolate eggs were made in France and Germany in the early 19th century and were made from dark chocolate. It was not until Cadbury released their dairy milk chocolate that the Easter egg started to gain more popularity.
Whiskey Blending Experience
Now we can’t promise you any Easter Bunnies or Easter Eggs here at the Irish Whiskey Museum, however, we will mark Easter with the introduction of our new Whiskey Blending Experience.
Join us for a fully guided tour of the museum followed by an interactive tasting experience. Enjoy 4 premium Irish whiskeys, while our Master Blender imparts his/her knowledge to you. Then put your knowledge to the test and become a Master Blender. Craft and sample your own unique blend of Irish Whiskey. Take home a miniature bottle of your own Irish whiskey (if it gets that far) as a keepsake.
If you’re still curious about the Easter Bunny’s origins, here’s a few links for you to check out.