PHOENIX - Spring has sprung, and that means Peter Cottontail will soon be hoppin' down the bunny trail, bringing Easter favorites like chocolate bunnies, jelly beans and, of course, colored eggs.
Though the tradition is fun and maybe even a little silly, it's not without reason. According to a recent report from The Vancouver Sun , the bunny-and-eggs custom dates back to the 13th century. Back then, residents of what we now know as Germany worshipped a number of gods and goddesses, including Eostre, who as goddess of the spring, was often depicted carrying a basket of red eggs with two baby hares.
Experts believe the colored egg and rabbit tradition stuck, while the goddess was lost to history. Scot M. Guenter, a professor of American Studies at San Jose State University, said Eostre's eggs and bunnies stood the test of time because of their cultural relevance.
"The bunny symbolizes fecundity and the eggs represent the cycle of life," Guenter told the paper.
Some Christians might disagree with the Pagan tradition that seems to have permeated their holy day, but Guetner said that's just the way global culture works.
"As the church moved around the globe, it assimilated a lot of the local culture," he told the paper. "It's a way of getting your system accepted. You build on what was there before."
Though most involve a bunny and eggs, Easter traditions around the world vary. According to information from About.com , children in Europe go "egg pegging" to celebrate the holiday. Egg pegging is similar to trick-or-treating; children go door-to-door seeking eggs instead of candy.
Egg rolling is an international Easter tradition, but its origins are more symbolic on the Christian holiday. About.com reported that the contests are "a symbolic re-enactment of the rolling away of the stone from Christ's tomb."
No matter how you celebrate it, learning the history behind Easter traditions puts a new spin on the spring festivities.
Copyright 2011 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
More Did You Hear?