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That song was composed in 1949 by the same people who wrote Frosty the Snowman. Gene Autry’s recording of Here Comes Peter Cottontail reached #3 on one Billboard list and #5 on another.

Peter Cottontail is Peter Rabbit’s alias in The Adventures of Peter Cottontail, published in 1914

You may remember Peter’s sisters, Flopsy, Mopsy and Cottontail, but did you know Peter’s father was baked into a pie* by the McGregors, owners of the vegetable garden where the bunny children were forbidden to play?

The Tale of Peter Rabbit is another children’s book

Written and illustrated by Beatrix Potter, it was published ten years before The Adventures of Peter Cottontail. Potter was one of the first authors to take advantage of using fictional characters as merchandise tie-ins, patenting a Peter Rabbit doll and a Peter Rabbit board game.

Easter Bunny

Osterhase (the Easter Hare) was brought to the USA by German Lutherans. German-way.com says in that back in the 17th century, commonfolk across the land believed in animals that hatched real eggs on Easter and hid them for well-behaved children to find. In other regions, the animal bringing Easter eggs was a fox, a rooster, or a cuckoo bird.

Rabbits won out, presumably because they are such prolific breeders

The females have two uteruses, so they can give birth to one litter of as many as 14 kittens (rabbbit young are called kittens) while already pregnant with the next. Some say Peter Cottontail, Peter Rabbit and the Easter Bunny are three alter-egos of the same lagomorph. Others see deeper religious significance in the triad.

Where did Easter eggs, hunts and rolls, bonnets and parades come from?

Easter is one of those holy holidays that got blended into already-existing pagan celebrations of Spring, new life and the rebirth of nature after the dead of winter. Centuries later, we’ve come nearly full circle, once again placing more emphasis upon festivities than worship. The National Retail Federation says three out of four Americans will spend almost $200 each celebrating Easter.

Easter eggs

The eggs the Easter Bunny brings symbolize life, of course. Some early Christians believed the egg was a symbol of resurrection and the empty shell was a metaphor for Jesus’ tomb. Others claimed the Easter egg hunt was a re-enactment of the discovery of the empty tomb. Some believers say that the egg’s shell, yolk and albumen are symbols of the Holy Trinity.

The notion of decorating Easter eggs with colored dyes goes back to the 13th century when eggs were forbidden during Lent

To mark the end of weeks of personal sacrifice, out came the eggs. Some dyed their eggs red to represent Jesus’ blood.

Long ago, men would hide eggs for women and children to hunt for as food

They made them hard to find so children would develop their hunting abilities. Traditionalists still like to search for hidden hard-boiled eggs, but young moderns have replaced real eggs with plastic eggs that hold goodies inside, turning event into treasure hunts. Last year, $3 billion was spent on Easter candy.

Actual hiding and hunting has been replaced by Easter egg grabs (the one above was on the White House lawn), where every treasure is in plain sight and everyone wins all the time, Lake Wobegon style.

Easter bonnets

Easter was a grand opportunity for women to wear new spring hats. Commoners made their own bonnets of straw and decorated them with Easter-themed symbols of fluffy little newborn chick. bunnies and lambs. High-fashion elites promenaded for all to see what the finely-dressed were wearing this year.

The Easter Parade began in New York City right after the Civil War. The well-to-do congregation of St. Patrick’s Cathedral would stroll down Fifth Avenue after the Sunday services, with all their magnificent finery on display, especially the ladies’ bonnets.

Take your choice of Bing Crosby’s studio version or Judy Garland and Fred Astaire’s performance in the 1948 film Easter Parade.

Egg rolling

The rolling of eggs downhill on Easter is said by some to symbolize the angel rolling the stone away from the entrance to the tomb where they had taken Jesus after the crucifixion. No matter the origin, more than 10,000 children came to Washington DC in 1876 to roll hard-boiled eggs down the slopes of the White House lawn, few of them thinking ecclesiastically. The winners were those whose eggs rolled the farthest without breaking.

In 1953, First Lady Mamie Eisenhower asked why black children were outside the fences watching the white children rolling eggs inside. She insisted they be included the following year.

Chocolate Easter bunnies

  • 90 million are sold each year.
  • The Guinness record holder was 13 feet tall and weighed 8,000 pounds.
  • Three out of four people eat the ears first. The rest start with either the tail or the feet.

What about dyed live chicks?

  • Some are created by injecting dye into the embryos of incubating eggs while others are sprayed with paint after hatching. WikiHow has some pages showing you how to dye your own baby chickens.
  • The New York Times says about half the U.S. states have laws against dyeing animals.  
  • Animal people protest that chicks are not toys. They know enthusiasm for the live chicks declines quickly and two out of three die soon after, some abandoned and others dumped on humane societies.

The closer we look, the more we find that when it comes to things from the past, there are many different versions of how things came about

*Break with traditional Easter Dinner this year with these three recipes I found online: Deviled Egg Chicks, Cookie Dough Easter Bonnets and Peter Rabbit Pot Pie.

Want to look at old things in new ways, see the commonplace in greater detail and hear complex subject matter explained in simple, conversational language?

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Philosophers’ corner

Why do we eat the rabbit that delivers our goodies on Easter but not the Santa that delivers our presents in late December?



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