Why do we have Easter eggs and the Easter Bunny?

  • 4 April 2012
A young girl carries a pink basket filled with colourful painted eggs. She has sprinklings of pastel confetti in her hair.

What is Easter about?

Easter is a Christian festival which celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The Bible says Christ died on the cross on Good Friday and came back to life three days later.

Easter is on different dates each year, between 21 March and 25 April, depending on when there's a full moon in spring.

There are some unusual modern traditions associated with it.

Why do we have Easter eggs?

A lot of us may chomp on chocolate eggs at Easter, but originally eating eggs was not allowed by the church during the week leading up to Easter (known as Holy Week).

So any eggs laid that week were saved and decorated to make them 'Holy Week eggs', then given to children as gifts.

Victorians adapted the tradition with satin covered cardboard eggs filled with Easter gifts.

Chocolate bunnies and eggs
Giving chocolate gifts is common at Easter time.

Why are Easter eggs made of chocolate?

The first chocolate eggs appeared in France and Germany in the 19th century but were bitter and hard.

As chocolate-making techniques improved, hollow eggs like the ones we have today were developed.

They very quickly became popular and remain popular today.

What's the Easter Bunny then?

The story of the Easter Bunny is thought to have become common in the 19th century.

Rabbits usually give birth to a big litter of babies (called kittens), so they became a symbol of new life.

Legend has it that the Easter bunny lays, decorates and hides eggs as they are also a symbol of new life.

He doesn't do all the work alone though. In Switzerland, Easter eggs are delivered by a cuckoo, and by a fox in parts of Germany.