Why eggs and bunnies represent Easter

By on April 5, 2012.

In considering the meaning behind Easter, it’s a little strange that such a significant event is celebrated with bunny rabbits and egg coloring parties.

Believe it or not, these two things fit well into the symbolism of Easter.

For most Christians, Easter is the time of there year when the death of Christ, and his subsequent resurrection three days later, are celebrated. And while the egg may seem out of place regarding Christian symbolism, it is actually used to remind people of Christ’s resurrection.

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This rabbit's name is Daisy.

The meaning behind the egg isn’t too hard to decipher.

“I do remember the egg being a symbol for renewal, rebirth, etc., which ties back to Christ’s resurrection,” said Lowell Acorda, who is studying American sign language at  the University of Alberta.

The egg itself is a representation of the tomb, which is evidenced by the hard shell. When cracked, it imitates the resurrection of Christ and his emergence from the sepulcher. Even the tradition of rolling eggs represents rolling away the stone covering the tomb.

So far this may be understandable, but dyeing eggs may seem more far-fetched in the symbolism of Easter.

One belief holds that as Mary Magdalene approached the garden tomb, she was carrying a basket of eggs to share with the other women. As she inquired regarding the missing body of the Savior, she saw the Lord and the eggs in her basket turned blood red, imitating the sacrifice of the Lord.

A second tradition recounts the story of Mary visiting with the emperor of Rome to proclaim the resurrection of Christ. The emperor, disbelieving the story, proclaimed that Christ had no more risen from the dead than the eggs sitting on the table were red. Upon this declaration, the eggs once again turned blood red.

Along with the eggs comes the Easter image of a chocolate-hiding bunny. The Easter Bunny itself is an interesting tradition that started centuries ago.

According to an article in the Deseret News, a Norse goddess named Eastre was responsible for ushering in the new year during the spring season. One year she was late in her duties and, to make up for her mistake, she saved a little bird injured in the cold. Because the bird could no longer fly as a result of its damaged wings, Eastre changed it unto a hare which had the ability to lay eggs, but only on the day Eastre was celebrated.

Thus was born the tradition of an egg-laying bunny responsible for hidden chocolate all over our homes.

Even though the Easter Bunny stems from an old tradition, the rabbit itself still fits well within the symbolism of the season. Just as the Atonement brings new life, so does spring. New life springs forth after the winter, and rabbits are a prime example of fertility and birth, since they have the ability to produce many offspring.

Like most holidays, much of the meaning behind the celebration is lost due to commercialization. However, even with colorful eggs and bunnies, the important messages behind Easter and the true significance of what took place two centuries ago can still be remembered.

John Ternieden

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