PICKENS COUNTY — Easter is a holiday celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ three days after his crucifixion. It is a deeply spiritual day for observers, marking the end of Lent and considered by many biblical scholars to be one of the holiest — if not the holiest — of the Christian holidays.
Which naturally begs the question: What in the world does an egg-delivering rabbit have to do it?
Common sense suggests there is no logical correlation between the Easter Bunny and Easter. In fact, one survey suggested that most people simply assume commercialism is the driving factor behind the bunny.
In reality, the bunny and the eggs date back to at least the 13th century.
According to the University of Florida’s Center for Children’s Literature and Culture, the first mentions of the Easter Bunny come from early Pagan traditions stemming from an area in Europe that is now Germany.
The people at the time worshiped several gods and goddesses — among them “Eostra,” who was the goddess of fertility and Spring.
Feasts honoring Eostra were held on the Vernal Equinox by worshippers to help ensure a large family and to celebrate the end of Winter.
Her symbol? The rabbit.
Eggs came in about the same time. For obvious reasons, eggs were the traditional symbol for life and birth in the pagan tradition.
Bottom line? It was only a matter of time before rabbits and eggs became the symbols of Spring.
Later, around the 15th century, Roman Catholicism had fully taken root and was by far the dominant religion in the region. As time passed, Germanic, pagan and spring traditions melded together.
Behold! The Easter Bunny was born.
Much like the Christmas tree, the Easter Bunny tradition didn’t really take hold in America until German immigrants came and settled in Pennsylvania, bringing their traditions with them.
It quickly spread.
Today, the Easter Bunny is not only the symbol of the holiday, he is the center point to a multi-billion dollar industry.
According to Internet Retailer, Barna Group, National Retail Federation, and the National Confectioner’s Association, Americans annually spend $14.6 billion — that’s billion with a “B” — on all Easter related goods.
That number may seem high, but keep in mind that it’s not just for chocolate bunnies, although candy does account for $2.1 billion and over 90 million chocolate rabbits are poured into molds every year.
Easter clothes, Easter flowers, gifts, groceries for Easter dinner, greeting cards all go into reaching that staggering final number.
In fact, as far as commercialized holidays go, the survey placed Easter second only to Christmas, with Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day taking third and fourth places, respectively.
So this Sunday, whether you are brushing off your fancy hat before attending a sunrise church service, basting a honey ham in preparation to stick it in the oven or stuffing little plastic eggs with jelly beans and peeps to hide all around your house, remember that traditions all come from somewhere and even the strangest of customs have their root in history.
Reach Kasie Strickland at 864-855-0355.