Unpack the facts: Five things you didn’t know about Easter

A graphic of a Easter bunny holding a striped egg on the right, with three yellow chicks on the left.
Graphic by Natalie Bauer

Easter is this weekend, and across the country, families are dyeing eggs and filling shopping carts with Peeps in preparation. Whether you’re celebrating with egg hunts, jelly beans or nothing at all, here are some fun facts to learn about this holiday.

1) How did the Easter bunny hop into play?

Easter is meant to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, but nowhere in the Bible does it mention a chocolate-bearing rabbit. Though the Easter bunny’s exact origins are unknown, one common theory is that it stems from the festival of Eostre, a pagan tradition.

Eostre was a goddess of fertility, and the rabbit — because of its rapid breeding — was her symbolic animal. According to legend, during a long winter, Eostre found a dead bird in the snow and, taking pity, turned it into a snow hare that could lay multi-colored eggs once a year: the day of the festival of Eostre. Because Christians celebrated Easter around the same time, the egg-laying rabbit slowly became associated with the holiday.

2) Bunnies, bells and bilbies

While kids in the U.S. are visited by the Easter bunny, French children await Easter bells. Per Catholic teaching, no church bells may be rung between Holy Thursday and Easter Sunday. To explain this silence, a legend evolved saying that church bells grew wings and flew to Rome to receive blessings from the Pope, returning on Easter with gifts.

Meanwhile, Australia’s Anti-Rabbit Research Foundation has been campaigning to replace the Easter bunny with the Easter Bilby since 1991. Why? In Australia, rabbits are considered invasive pests, and have been responsible for causing the extinction of numerous native species. Yikes.

3) Easter at the White House

Ever since 1878, the president has hosted the White House Easter Egg Roll. It began with the presidency of Rutherford B. Hayes, when a group of children approached the White House gate, hoping to play egg-rolling games in the lawn. Hayes allowed them to enter, and soon Easter festivities on White House grounds became a tradition.

Today, the event is so popular that tickets are only available through a lottery system. Of course, as with most Easter events, the Easter bunny is certain to make an appearance. During the George W. Bush administration, former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer was the one to don the bunny suit.

4) The Peep-le’s favorite non-chocolate Easter candy

For those with a sweet tooth, marshmallow Peeps are an integral part of Easter celebrations. Though an enthusiast may be able to devour one in seconds, it once took 27 hours to make a Peep. When Peeps’ manufacturer, the Just Born company, first acquired the Rodda Candy Company and its marshmallow treats in 1953, each chick was handmade with a pastry tube, which was quite a time-consuming method.

Just Born automated the process, and today, it takes just six minutes to make a Peep. Peeps are the most popular non-chocolate Easter candy and have been for more than two decades. Each spring, more than 1.5 billion are consumed.

5) For chocolate fanatics

If you’re not a huge fan of Peeps, don’t despair — help yourself to one of the more than 90 million chocolate bunnies that are produced for Easter each year. Sure, the fact that they are hollow may be a disappointment, but it’s for your own safety: R.M. Palmer’s vice president of operations pointed out that a solid chocolate bunny would be a hazard for breaking your teeth.

A real hazard, however, would be the world’s largest chocolate bunny, standing at 14.8 feet high and weighing in at 9,359 pounds. The team who crafted it — nine professional chocolatiers in Brazil — won a Guinness World Record for their creation.

Mady Colantes PO ’22 writes lists for TSL. She is from Seattle, and when she is not in shock over the lack of rain in Claremont, she enjoys reading and getting too excited over small things.

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