Santa isn’t the only one making lists and checking them twice.
Among German Lutherans, legend has it that a special hare once sat in judgement of children at the outset of Eastertide. “Obedient” tots were rewarded with colored eggs, candy and, sometimes, toys from a bottomless basket. Unlike Santa Clause, the Easter Bunny has been depicted clothed - and not.
The medieval church believed that rabbits were hermaphroditic and, therefore, able to reproduce while remaining “pure.” Naturally the hare became linked to the Virgin Mary. By the late 17th century, an explosion of bunny motifs adorned church architecture, illuminated manuscripts and Northern European paintings depicting the Virgin Mary and the Christ child.
What came first, the bunny or the egg? Not quite sure about that one. But we do know that the bunny’s reputation for prodigious progeny, especially during the early spring, became a symbol for the earth’s fertility. Birds also lay eggs when the Vernal Equinox tolls. That’s why bunnies and eggs became joined at the hip - and the people at Cadbury became bajillionaires.
This Sunday, many devout Christians will celebrate the pinnacle event of their faith. Most will vow to carry the teachings of Jesus every day throughout the year.
At this time, let the faithful not forget about one of the living, breathing symbols of their faith. Often given as Easter “gifts,” many bunnies, rabbits and hares are later forgotten, neglected or surrendered to the wild. Just ask the tireless volunteers at Rabbit Rescue and Rehab in New York City.
Vows are easy to make when spirits are high. But the mettle of faith is really testedlong after the faded eggshells are discarded - and responsibility sets in.
A bunny is forever . . .