Which Came First – The Egg Or The Rabbit?
Easter is a time when people’s thoughts turn to eggs and rabbits. These are both symbols of the Easter scene and connect with people on so many different levels. This is why they appear on free Easter greeting cards, both in conventional and e-card forms. In fact, both the egg and the rabbit or hare, have been symbols connected with the holiday for centuries.
Peter Rabbit or Peter Cottontail is the invention of Beatrice Potter (1886-1943), with some help from the German Lutherans and other earlier Christian and Pagan groups. The Easter Hare carried colored eggs in baskets, firmly associating the two symbols together – a common theme among many modern free Easter greeting cards.
The Hare has been long associated with the season into which Easter falls. Throughout ancient times, hares have been associated with various Goddesses. Among them are the Greek lunar Goddess, Hekate (Hecate) and the German version, Harek. Among certain Jews, the rabbit was viewed as being unclean; others referred to it as being lascivious or at least a symbol of fertility.
For the Chinese, the rabbit or hare was an animal associated with its Calendar. It, purportedly, lived on the Moon. Rabbits are the animal for the month of March. Their season is Spring. Individuals who are Rabbits are shrewd, creative, patient, cautious and diplomatic.
The Aztecs also associated the Rabbit with the Moon while Native Americans saw the Rabbit as a trickster. In most cases, the adoption of the Rabbit in Christian mythology reflects the traits of the religion of birth and renewal during the vernal equinox as indicated by the death and rebirth of Jesus Christ.
The egg was a symbol of immortality to prehistoric humans. To the Egyptians, the egg represented potential and the mystery of life. The medieval alchemists agreed and used the egg to represent this in their works. It is a small step from these notions to the Cosmic Egg concept in Druidic and Indian religions/philosophy.
The Easter egg is a symbol of immortality. It conveys the essence of many of these earlier beliefs including the potential of life and its mystery. Except, unlike its ancient counterparts, Easter eggs may be colored in hue of the rainbow. Among the Ukrainians, the preparation of Easter eggs (Pysanka) for this holiday is not just a religious ritual or a skill, it is a sacred art.
Eggs and Rabbits, or at last eggs and chocolate rabbits, go together during this season. They are linked together through a shared Pagan history as well as philosophical and symbolic aspects. On free Easter greeting cards – both conventional and electronically sent, they are clear indications of the joyous nature of this day.