As a kid, it never really occurred to me that I should question the lore of the Easter Bunny. After all, like Santa Claus, he came into my house in the middle of the night, while everyone was sleeping and left me gifts….what was there to question?
My great-grandmother, who was of German ancestry and had been born and raised in Pennsylvania Dutch country once explained to me that it was the Germans who brought the Easter Bunny, or “Osterhase” to America.
According to German folklore and my grandma, the Osterhase was an egg laying rabbit. Each spring, to prepare for its arrival, children would build nests for the Osterhase to lay its colorful eggs. Because I was gullible and clearly not learning anything in school….I had no problem accepting the notion that there was a mythical rabbit out there….hopping across the world in a single night….laying colored eggs in handmade nests for excited children.
I accounted for the differences in the story and my reality, (nest making to baskets….colorful eggs laid by a mammal that doesn’t lay eggs to colorful plastic eggs filled with M&M’s and Hershey Kisses)….in the same way I accounted for the differences in the Santa Claus my great-grandma had known….(the kind of guy who left an orange, a peppermint stick and a straw doll in a stocking)….and the Santa I knew….(the kind of guy who delivered wrapped gifts like Cabbage Patch Dolls and My Little Pony under a well-lit tree)….Santa had simply upped his game and the Osterhase had followed suit.
Now that I’m older, I wish I had asked more questions and been more interested in the traditions and beliefs of my ancestors….if for no other reason than to share that history with my own child. I could certainly Google it, I’m sure it’s all laid out there for me, but that feels considerably less personal.
Instead, I put a few colored hard-boiled eggs in my sons Easter basket this year as a gift from the Osterhase and my great-grandma.
Happy Easter….in whatever way it means to you!