I have always been confused about the role that the rodent, known as the Easter Bunny, plays during the Easter season. Who invented this creature? What is his purpose? What is the correlation between that mythical rodent and chicken eggs that have been colored? Is the Easter Bunny benign or is that a disguise to hide a sinister charlatan bent on doing no good? Or is he (she) just a warm and fuzzy icon who wants all his worshipers to be overfed on eggs and chocolate?These questions have haunted me ever since my first Easter as a child old enough to ask those questions. Being born and raised in the Catholic Church and attending Catholic grade school, I was well indoctrinated by the nuns, who ruled my small world and were the final authority on all things holy, in the religious significance of Easter. So it was thoroughly confusing when the existence of a rabbit, who scattered (now we would say littered. Back then ecologists and environmentalists hadn't yet come into vogue) colored eggs and chocolate candy around the house and yard, suddenly appeared on the scene.
Don't get me wrong. I loved the chocolate candy and the jelly beans that were everywhere at that time. I willingly participated in the pagan ritual of dying eggs. I was as eager to grab my share, and more, of the goodies that abounded. I just couldn't figure out where all this largess came from. The notion that some bunny was behind all this hooha seemed preposterous.
I know there is precedent for holiday icons and mascots. Just look at Christmas. There is an abundance of Christmas traditions that on the surface seem silly. The difference between those Christmas traditions and the Easter incongruities is that all those Christmas traditions can be traced directly back to early Christian beliefs and activities that evolved into the Christmas we all know and love.
Not so much Easter. I have no idea where that Easter Bunny, as a symbol at the center of our Easter celebration, originated. None of it makes sense. Somehow the Easter season turned into a free-for-all of bunnies, colored chicken eggs( with the life cooked out of them), and little baskets stuffed with teeth rotting candies. I simply cannot reconcile all that nonsense with any Christian belief dating back to Christianity's earliest days. Easter has become the most secular of religious holy days. I'd be wiling to bet that if you stopped 10 people at random on the street that not one would be able to tell you what the religious significance of Easter is. Somehow that depresses me even in my state of lapsed Catholicism.