Easter bunnies are very common in Canada during Easter. As the parents celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, children enjoy the Easter bunny gifts, “egg search,” and “egg roll” games during Easter (New moon rabbit rescue 2012). However, it is not clear if people know the exact meaning of all the actions that take place during the Easter celebrations in Canada.
This paper will give a thorough exploration of the Easter bunny in Canada. It will give the symbolic meanings of the bunny and its eggs, and the historic aspect of all the actions that occur during Easter celebrations in Canada.
History of the Easter bunny
Easter bunny is pre-Christian folklore that involved rabbits and hares. The two animals were associated with eggs that are fertility symbols. Ancient Canadians related Easter bunnies to a goddess of spring and fertility. Therefore, Easter bunnies played a significant role in the rebirth of spring in April.
It is clear that rabbits do not lay eggs; however, the Canadian folklore had an unusual notion that rabbits could lay eggs that had a symbolic meaning and hide the eggs in the gardens. The colored eggs coincided with the blooming flowers during spring. Canadians associated the hares that could reproduce without losing their virginity with the Virgin Mary who conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit.
The shape of an eggshell resembles a stone of a tomb. Therefore, the fact that a bird hatches from an egg with life is similar to the resurrection of Jesus from the tomb. Jesus’ resurrection is a clear indication that there is eternal life for true believers. In 325 A.D., Emperor Constantine ordered that Christians must celebrate Easter between 22 March and 25 April of every year, and the Canadians adopted the culture.
The first egg-laying rabbit emerged during the 1700s, and the Catholics were engrossed with the colored eggs. At the commencement of the Ash Wednesday, eggs were forbidden. Canadian Catholics could not take eggs during the Fast Lenten period. After fasting for the 40 days before Easter, the Catholics ought to take a heavy breakfast.
During this period, the Catholics thought it would be wise to eat the colored eggs in addition to other energy giving meals that would provide them with the liveliness to celebrate for the whole day.
Traditional believes about the Easter bunny
Just as Santa Claus judges whether children are good or bad during Christmas, the Easter bunny evaluates the obedience levels of children during Easter. According to the legend, the bunny carries colored eggs, candies, and toys in a basket and rewards obedient children in the night before Easter. In Canada, the Easter bunny folklore plays a great role in reshaping the character traits of notorious children.
The parents threaten the children that the Easter Bunny would punish them if they do not change their ill characters. Good mannered children anticipate receiving chocolate bunnies and buddies during Easter. Diligent Canadian parents always promise Easter bunny treats to children who have extemporary performance in schools, which brings the motivation to work hard.
The Easter bunny
Canadians recognize rabbits and hares as the Easter bunnies. Rabbits and hares are related, but the hares have long hind legs and small ears. Rabbits are some of the animals with the highest reproduction capacity; therefore, they symbolize the reproductive spring season (“Holidays,” 2014).
Spring is a season associated with the rebirth of vegetation, which survives until it is withered by the strong summer rays. In ancient days, a Canadian who bumped into a rabbit’s foot would have high sexual potency, good luck, and financial prosperity.
The Easter bunny was the main egg supplier in the ancient days. To catch the attention of the Easter bunnies, children would build attractive nests for the bunny. Boys used their caps to build their nests, which they hid in secluded places. Similarly, the girls used their bonnets to construct the nests and hide them in the gardens for the bunny to place the colored eggs.
The children would then summon the rabbit through whistles and charmed recitations to have the eggs. Essentially, the children believed that the Easter bunny was able to distinguish the good children from the bad ones, and only the good children would receive the colored eggs as gifts. Moreover, godparents, who were very common in Canada, would always reward their godchildren with decorated eggs as a symbol of blessings.
The Easter egg
Religious scholars indicate that the ancient Canadian believers thought that the world was an egg, which broke into two to bring everything that exists. The believers supported their hypothesis by the fact that almost every creature on earth came into being because of some fertilized egg. Therefore, the egg is an immortal symbol that plays a great role in guaranteeing the existence of forthcoming generations (Ternieden, 2012).
The bunny is believed to have carried the eggs in a basket while distributing the eggs to the obedient children. The basket has a symbolic meaning of life, as it was able to save the life of Moses. Although baskets are not weighty, they are strong enough to carry heavy things that are useful in one way or another.
Coloring the eggs was a way of keeping the evil spirits away. Therefore, painting the eggs would always help in convincing the evil spirits to depart from a person and stop bringing bad luck. The prettily painted eggs would attract the hallowed spirits that would bring good luck.
The common jellybeans in Canada during Easter represent the ancient bunny eggs. Initially, the jellybeans were soft and chewy. However, the manufacturers have added a sugar shell coating on the jellybeans to add flavor. Currently, the jellybeans come in different sizes, colors, and different flavors to meet the demands of the consumers in the contemporary world.
Easter in Canada
In Canada, the Easter celebrations are highly respected, and the country has a federal statutory holiday during the period. Essentially, the holiday commences on Good Friday and proceeds to Easter Sunday and Easter Monday. Canadians celebrate Easter on the first Sunday after seeing the full moon. The earliest date during which the full moon can appear is 22 March, and the latest date is 25 April.
The full moon marks the beginning of Easter where Christians mourn on Good Friday because of the death of Christ, and they celebrate on Easter Sunday as Jesus resurrects. Although people celebrate Christmas more than they celebrate the Easter holidays, strong Christians will always consider Easter as more important than Christmas as Easter proofs that Jesus overcame death. Christians fast for 40 days during the lent period just like Jesus fasted.
Satan had the privilege of tempting Jesus, and in the same manner, Christians are tempted to sin and give up on the wearisome lent period. Easter comes after the lent period of prayer, repentance, and fasting. During the lent period, Canadian believers can be tempted to consume banned eggs.
Commercialization of the Easter bunny
Lately, Canadians have commercialized the Easter holidays. Businesspersons have always identified the Easter Holidays as periods during which they can sell tons of chocolates in the form of Easter eggs and Easter bunnies. Painters also make massive profits by painting egg carvings and selling them during Easter. Jellybeans molds, baskets, and marshmallow chicks are very popular in retail stores at the commencement of the spring season.
Sure enough, the purchases of such items are very high during that season. Some people opt to buy pet bunnies to carry the joy of the Easter bunnies to their homes. Majority of the Canadian parents find fun in purchasing egg paint kits and doing the paintings with their children, while others dye hard-boiled eggs using beet juice. During this period, petting zoos become popular, and children have the opportunity to feed bunnies and play around with them.
Interestingly, the Black children experienced some form of segregation, which leads to the creation of the national zoos in Canada. While the White children played the egg roll game while at the White House, the Black children mourned because the White House was a restricted zone for the Black children. The famous national zoos in Canada were built to compensate for the segregations of the black children.
Currently, there is numerous jewelry made to resemble the Easter Bunnies and Easter eggs. Sculptures and carvings are common in many religious buildings across Canada to represent the Easter bunnies. The eggs are carved with names of the beholders, the commemoration dates, and some favorite bible verses. The sculptures have different designs, depending on the desires of the owner.
Family get-togethers and massive celebrations during the Easter weekend mark the climax of the Easter bunny holidays in Canada. Families find it worthwhile to reward their relatives with sculptures, carvings, and all kinds of gifts that have some resemblance of the Easter bunnies and eggs. In ancient days, the decorated Easter eggs were presented as gifts to the proprietors, pastors, bell-ringers, lovers, and even to the gravediggers.
Therefore, the culture of presenting jellybeans as gifts in the contemporary world has some ancient history. Ancient children felt most appreciated when rewarded with the decorated eggs just as the current children feel great when prized with chocolate jellybeans and rabbits.
Interestingly, chocolate rabbits are very common during Easter celebrations in Canada, and the Easter bunny obligates the children to eat the ears first before proceeding to the rest of the body.
Commemorates of the Easter bunny
Many Canadians strive to employ all strategies to sustain the Easter memories in their children. The commonest hide and seek game plays a great role in commemorating Easter. Mostly, children visit their grandparents to have family get-together moments. At that time, the numerous grandchildren have a good time playing and socializing with one another. On the night before Easter, the parents and the children decorate hard-boiled eggs.
Older kids display the skills gained in the previous season, while the young kids learn new skills of decorating the eggs. The children also have the opportunity to listen to tales of the Easter bunnies from their grandparents. When the children have gone to sleep, the “Easter Bunny” hides the decorated eggs and chocolate eggs all over the compound. In the morning, children search for the eggs and collect them in a basket.
The child who manages to collect more eggs than the others do emerges as the winner. The grandparents would then prepare egg salad sandwiches for their grandchildren before they depart for their homes. The whole scenario brings so much fun to the children who will long for the subsequent Easter holiday.
The entire scenario that is very common in Canada keeps the culture ongoing as every generation has an opportunity to have a contemporary overview of the Easter bunny.
Some parents who do not have an opportunity to take their children to their grandparents “roll eggs” with their children. The parents set up the game in a ramp, and they give some few eggs to every child. Every player would have an opportunity to roll the eggs down the ramp.
Due to the oval shape of the egg, the eggs roll in a curvy way as they go downwards. The whole aim of the game is hitting another player’s egg and owning it. The child who manages to hit as many eggs as possible emerges as the winner.
Moreover, the owner of the last intact egg is guaranteed a championship reward. Essentially, the Canadians associate the egg rolling game with the resurrection of Jesus Christ. They associate the emergence of the rabbit from its burrow with the rising of Christ from the tomb on the Easter Sunday, whereas, the rolling eggs represent the rolling of the stone that covered Jesus’ tomb.
Easter bunnies and Easter eggs in the contemporary world
In the ancient days, Canadians used dyed and painted hard-boiled chicken eggs during Easter. However, in the contemporary world, people have adopted the custom of substituting chicken eggs with chocolate and plastic eggs. Some Christians dye their Easter eggs with red color to recognize the blood that Jesus Christ shed on the cross. Green decorations represent the new plantations at the onset of spring.
An egg painted in white represents purity that is obtained after the repentance and forgiveness of sins. Yellow is a color that portrays the glowing sunlight that is experienced on the onset of the spring season. Purple-colored eggs symbolize the union of love as people repent with much pain.
Essentially, Canadian Christians recognize purple as a royal color, as priests wear purple robes during Easter to display their nobility. For unknown reasons, purple dye was extremely expensive in ancient days. While the other dyes were affordable to ordinary Canadians, only the kings, priests, and the wealthy people could afford to buy the purple dye.
As evident from the discussions, every happening in the contemporary world has some history. Indeed, every action that Christians do during the Easter celebrations in Canada has some meaning behind it. The rabbits and their symbolic eggs have played a great role in maintaining the Christians’ believes.
Moreover, the games associated with the bunny and the eggs play a great role in commemorating Easter and bringing fun to the children. Easter Sunday has always been a joyous celebration in Canada, and the celebration is likely to undergo several evolutions in the forthcoming generations.
Holidays: What do rabbits, chickens, and the moon have in common? Easter. (2014). Canadian Newcomer Magazine. Web.
New moon rabbit rescue, Canada: Rabbits for Easter. (2012). Web.
Ternieden, J. (2012). Why eggs and bunnies represent Easter. Web.