The Easter Bunny is not a modern invention. The symbol originated with the pagan festival of Eastre. The goddess, Eastre, was worshipped by the Anglo-Saxons through her earthly symbol, the rabbit. The Easter bunny has its origin in pre-Christian fertility lore. The Hare and the Rabbit were the most fertile animals known and they served as symbols of the new life during the spring season.
Bringing Easter eggs seems to have its origins in Alsace and the Upper Rhineland, both then in the Holy Roman Empire, and southwestern Germany, where the practice was first recorded in a German publication in the 1500s (early 16th century). The first edible Easter Eggs were made in Germany during the early 19th century and were made of pastry and sugar.
The Easter Bunny was introduced to the United States by the German settlers who arrived in the Pennsylvania Dutch country during the 18th century. The arrival of the Osterhase was considered one of "childhood's greatest pleasures", similar to the arrival of Kris Kringle on Christmas Eve.
It was widely ignored by other Christians until shortly after the Civil War. In fact, Easter by its self was not widely celebrated in America until after that time.
According to the tradition, children would build brightly colored nests, often out of caps and bonnets, in secluded areas of their homes. The "Oster Hawse" would, if the children had been good, lay brightly colored eggs in the nest. As the tradition spread, the nest has become the manufactured, modern Easter basket, and the placing of the nest in a secluded area has become the tradition of hiding baskets.
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