The Osterhase (Easter Bunny)

28th March 2024. Reading Time: 2 minutes General. 4115 page views. 0 comments.

We know that Easter is traditionally a Christian holiday with some pagan roots. But where did the giant bunny come from? Here is all you need to know about the Easter Bunny or the Osterhase.

While Easter itself is traditionally a Christian holiday (which also has some pagan roots), the concept of the Easter bunny is far from what the holiday is supposed to celebrate. So who is the Easter Bunny and where did he or she come from?

The first glimpse of the Easter Bunny as we know it today was first mentioned in Germany around the 1500s. In fact, it is a part of German tradition. The legend says that a poor woman from Germany used to decorate coloured eggs for her children to find in the garden. When the eggs were found, a large hare (rabbit) was seen hopping away. The children thought that it was the hare (rabbit) that left these eggs. This legend is thought to be the origin of the Easter Bunny.

The first written mention of the Easter Bunny came about in 1682 where a 16 page dissertation was written by Johannes Richier called "De Ovis Paschalibus. Von Oster-Eyern." which means "On Easter Eggs".  A section of the English translation reads:

In Alsace, and neighboring regions, these eggs are called rabbit eggs because of the myth told to fool simple people and children that the Easter Bunny is going around laying eggs and hiding them in the herb gardens. So the children look for them, even more enthusiastically, to the delight of smiling adults.

(Bos, Carole; “On Easter Eggs – Georg Franck von Franckenau” March 20, 2016. March 31, 2021.)

Image Source: Württembergische Landesbibliothek

The concept of the Easter Bunny was then introduced into American folklore by German settlers during the 1700s who arrived in Pennsylvania. The concept evolved, spread, and expanded into what we know today.

Osterhase as you have probably guessed means Easter Hare in German. In folklore, the Osterhase was almost seen a little bit like Santa Clause. He was the judge of the children and would decide if they had been good or bad. If they were good, he would bring them coloured eggs and sometimes toys. If they were bad, they would get nothing. The children would leave carrots in the garden to try and entice the hare which could be why people now leave coloured eggs in their gardens. The symbol of the hare or rabbit itself represents rebirth and transformation as they are well known for fertility and breeding so it is no surprise that it has been linked with a Christian holiday representing the same concept.

Easter itself is celebrated in many cultures in many ways with one common element. It is a time for the family to come together. So no matter which tradition you are celebrating this year, here are some creepy easter bunny photos I found on the internet all courtesy of! Happy Easter!


Images belong to Wicked Horror


(Bos, Carole; “On Easter Eggs – Georg Franck von Franckenau” March 20, 2016. March 31, 2021.)

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