top of page
Question Bête
Silly Question
PaquesLapin2023.jpg
Pourquoi le lapin symbolise-t-il Pâques aux États-Unis?

Why does the rabbit symbolize Easter in the United States?



The French have the bells, the Americans the rabbits. Why do Americans celebrate Easter with these cute animals? This is the silly question of the week.
 

Read on below

par

Nicolas Koussa

April 2, 2023

 


The French have the bells, the Americans the rabbits. Why do Americans celebrate Easter with these cute animals? This is the silly question of the week.
 

According to Kevin Shortsleeve, a professor at Christopher Newport University in Virginia and a specialist in children's literature, the origin of the Easter Bunny dates back to pre-Christian Germany. The Teutons (the Germans of the time) worshiped Ooutre, goddess of spring and fertility. A festival was celebrated every year on the equinox in March. The symbol of the goddess is… the rabbit, known for its reproductive activity. Ēoutre will also give its name to Easter in English.
 

When the Christian religion became dominant in Germany in the 15th century, this tradition was grafted onto existing pagan customs and the symbol of fertility was associated with eggs, representing the rebirth of Jesus. But beware, at the time the eggs were not made of chocolate but decorated and placed in nests.
 

Meanwhile, on the other side of the Rhine, in France, another legend is taking shape. Churches were required to remain silent in mourning for the three days before Jesus' resurrection. To answer the questions of the children, apparently disturbed by this silence, the parents told them that the bells had left to be blessed in Rome and that the journey took time. Over the years, the bells were believed to bring back gifts to toddlers to celebrate their return.
 

How did German rabbits cross the Atlantic? Beginning in 1680 and continuing into the 1900s, approximately eight million German immigrants settled in the United States, most notably in Pennsylvania, to take advantage of the economic opportunities and religious freedom of the New World. They brought with them different traditions, such as the Christmas tree, hot dogs and hamburgers – thank you Germany!
 

An immigration so important that the Germans are still today, according to the census, the largest ethnic group with 17% of the population claiming German origins, ahead of the Irish. It didn't take long for the American magic to do its job, the nests turned into baskets and the eggs were replaced by treats, chocolates, and small gifts.
 

Today, churches hold special services for Easter. Decorating eggs is always done, whether on real hard-boiled or plastic eggs. Eggs are also used in games, such as "egg rolling", celebrated all the way to the White House.

Nicolas Koussa

bottom of page