Religion Rabbits and Chocolate

Easter is here but have you ever stopped to think how in the world did we end up associating a rabbit with religion and the giving of chocolate eggs. Well if you search any religious texts from the Quran through to the Bible you won’t find any mention of rabbits delivering chocolate eggs, so if not from scripture then from where? One theory is that it was taken from the pagan Germanic festival celebrating Ēostre the goddess of spring and fertility. The Christians took this festival and reinterpreted it as the festival celebrating the death and resurrection of Jesus. Easter falls at the end of the Christian season of Lent, where followers fasted for 40 days. Eggs and rabbits have long been a symbol of fertility and rebirth (new life) and for that reason eggs were one of the forbidden foods over Lent. During Lent people would often paint and decorate eggs in preparation to mark the end of the Lent and they would share them with their family on Easter Sunday.  In the 17th and 18th centuries the humble chicken and duck egg were replaced with toy makers manufacturing  toy shaped eggs as a gift for Easter. Then in the 19th century with the rise of confectionaries companies in France and Germany saw the first chocolate eggs come into production. It was in 1875 that John Cadbury first started to mass produce the solid Cadbury chocolate eggs, and then later moving into chocolate Easter Rabbits. In other parts of the world, eggs aren’t delivered by a rabbit, in Sweden and Finland it is the Easter Witch. Here in Australia there is a strong movement away from the Easter Bunny as being the symbol of Easter because rabbits are considered as a pest and are the cause of considerable damage to wildlife, natural bush land and crops. Because of this the Australian marsupial the Bilby is taking on an increasing role as being the Australian symbol of Easter. Rabbits were introduced to Australia with the settlers from the first fleet and were brought over as a source of easily transportable food. The rabbits have flourished in the warm Australian climate and are now found throughout Australia. In 1990, in answer to the increasing population and destruction that rabbits cause, The Foundation for Rabbit free Australia was formed to look at new ways to control and eventually eradicate then form Australia. So this Easter buy a Bilby.

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