Well, today is Easter. That means there is a very strong possibility that you were visited by the Easter Bunny early this morning. He may have hidden some eggs, and left you a basket full of candy. Or if you’re like me, and it’s also 1986, he maybe left you the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Nintendo game.
If you think about it, this is a pretty bizarre way to celebrate the most revered of all the Christian holidays – a six-foot rabbit, hopping down the bunny trail, and right into your living room. I mean, that’s weird, right? So why do we do this… where did this tradition come from?
To find out, I did some extensive research. There’s a really good article in this month’s Smithsonian Magazine that provides a thorough explanation as to the Easter Bunny’s origins. But the article was pretty long and I didn’t read the whole thing. (Okay, maybe my research wasn’t necessarily that extensive.) Anyway, here’s what Wikipedia says:
“The Easter Bunny (also called the Easter Rabbit or Easter Hare) is a folkloric figure and symbol of Easter, depicted as a rabbit—sometimes dressed with clothes—bringing Easter eggs. Originating among German Lutherans, the ‘Easter Hare’ originally played the role of a judge, evaluating whether children were good or disobedient in behavior at the start of the season of Eastertide, similar to the ‘naughty or nice’ list made by Santa Claus.”
So if the Easter Bunny started out deciding if children were naughty or nice, why did he stop? I know Santa Claus has that whole “naughty list” deal on lock for Christmas, but Old St. Nick is on a beach right now. Why do kids get a pass from the Easter Bunny? Well don’t worry. I set a trap for that floppy-eared fuzz ball this morning, and got some answers. (Wikipedia also has really good instructions on building humane Easter Bunny traps.)
I recorded our conversation for accuracy – and also because I didn’t think anyone would believe I actually caught him. Here is the full transcript of our conversation, uncut and unedited…
ME: “Alright you funny bunny-man, what gives?”
EB: “You can forget it, buster – you ain’t gettin nuttin outta me!”
ME: “Oh no, huh? Well maybe I’ll just make myself a new lucky charm. Wadaya say about that? Feel like singin now, ya big-eared canary!”
EB: “No wait! Ya got it all wrong, see? I’m not a burglar – I’m the Easter Bunny!”
ME: “You think I thought you was a burglar? Have you seen your feet? What kinda burglar has feet like that? Or a tail! Burglars don’t got no tails. I know exactly who you are, and you’ve got some explaining to do!”
EB: “I don’t understand…”
ME: “Don’t get cute with me, bunny! What’s with bringing these kids all the candy and eggs, huh? You used to make sure that they was being good, but you don’t do that no more. What gives?”
EB: “Really, that’s why you caught me – to ask why I bring baskets to kids? What are you, the Easter Grinch?”
ME: “There’s no such thing as the Easter Grinch. Why are you letting these kids off the hook?”
EB: “Listen man, every kid deserves a visit from the Easter Bunny – no matter what. That’s just how it is, and that’s how I roll. Santa Claus has an army of elves working all year to figure out which kids have been naughty, and which kids have been nice. I got three chicks and an illiterate duck, so I do what I do. Now let me go. The bunny trail is getting cold, and I got more houses to hop on down to.”
And that was that – I thanked him for the Nintendo game in 1986, I gave him a carrot, and I sent him on his way. Hopefully he made it to your house before the kiddies woke up!
Matthew Young has been a resident of Lewisburg, WV since December 2019. Prior to arriving in West Virginia, Matthew resided in the Philadelphia area, where his reporting, commentary, and editorials have been featured in numerous local and regional publications. Previously, he has served as a scriptwriter and consultant for television, radio, and various other short-form digital-media platforms, both within the United States and internationally. Since moving to the Mountain State, Matthew spent eighteen months as senior writer/managing editor for the West Virginia Daily News and is currently an active journalist with the West Virginia Press Association.