Who is Peter Cottontail?

The ARBA recognizes 49 rabbit breeds and 13 cavy breeds, commonly known as guinea pigs. Among those breeds you will certainly find a few who resemble good Ole Peter Cottontail. (Courtesy photo)

By Jessica Crabtree 

The Easter holiday makes you think of colorfully decorated eggs, Easter dresses, candy and of course the Easter bunny. But how did the Easter bunny come to be associated with the Christian holiday and because of that, did the popularity of the rabbit change?

The significance behind the holiday is the combination of Lent and the resurrection of Jesus from the dead on the third day of his burial after the Romans crucified him at Calvary. Easter is considered as one of Christians’ most important holidays of the year. With the significance being about Resurrection Sunday, where does the bunny fit?

According to www.history.com, the first celebration of Easter including a bunny dates back to the second century, although others speculate it could go back even farther. One theory is Christians adopted Easter from a Pagan festival at which an Anglo-Saxon goddess named Eostre was being celebrated. She was known as the goddess of spring and fertility. It was noted the goddess consorted with a hare, which is where the inspiration of today’s Easter bunny could have came from. Symbolism in history has proven correct, and it shows the rabbit is an ancient symbol meaning fertility and new life, very fitting for spring and the Easter holiday.

Another speculation is that the connection of rabbits to Easter began in Europe during the 17th century and was brought to America a century later by German immigrants. Oddly enough, the Easter bunny is not universal. Other animals are associated with the holiday. The Koo-Koo bird delivers Easter to the children of Switzerland, while children in parts of Germany celebrate with an Easter fox, rooster, stork or chick.

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