Well it's Bilby time again - somehow as much as we Aussies should be exchanging Bunnies for Bilbies I just can't get that excited about a Bilby hunt. Perhaps it's my age showing here! After all I've been indoctrinated with the excitement of an Easter bunny hunt and hot cross buns with lashings of butter for longer than I care to mention - let alone count!
|What a combination - buns and bunnies - now I know why you can buy chocolate hot cross buns!|
I did one of my favourite things and Googled the history of Easter, hot cross buns and bunnies. Easter treats were originally hot cross buns made by monks and were given to the poor during Lent.
Now with regard to the bunny - he/she dates back to 13th Century Germany where the people prayed to the Teutonic deity Eostra, the goddess of fertility and spring (we downunder need to convert to autumn - not quite the same meaning!). Fertility was symbolized by the rabbit - due to its high reproduction rate! However the first mention of an actual Easter bunny wasn't until the 1500's and it was in 1682 that the story of the German tradition of an Easter hare bringing Easter eggs for the children was published. As for bunnies laying eggs and hiding them in the garden (or popping them in nests or baskets) - well.....
|A tisket a tasket - Easter eggs in a basket|
Like so many traditions there is often a 'sensible story' behind the tradition. During the Middle Ages the Church forbade the consumption of eggs during Lent, so the large supply of eggs were preserved and then eaten at Easter.
For all chocolate lovers it is to the Germans that you should give thanks as they first made chocolate eggs for Easter in the 19th century.
The ancient custom of decorating eggs is unknown but it is thought to celebrate both fertility and the blooming of spring (autumn!) and bringing spring (autumn!) into the home. The Eastern Orthodox Church typically dye their eggs red - in recognition of the sacrifice of Christ and the renewal of life - and spring (autumn!)
Although the Easter egg is symbolic of rebirth, the symbol of the egg also being used for celebration dates back to the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Romans and the Zoroastrians in Persia who dyed eggs to celebrate the start of spring (autumn!). Interestingly the Chinese also dye eggs to celebrate a newborn child.
|Green bunnies (don't ask me why on earth I bought green and not brown ones?!?)|
So as you spring (autumn!) off to go (chocolate) hot cross bun and Easter egg shopping, hunting and stuffing (never!) just think of the tradition that you are carrying on. What justification!