There is some disagreement on the origins of the Easter Bunny and Easter eggs. Some claim that the original Easter eggs are Pagan symbols from Europe, but there’s little evidence to support this. In Europe there may have been a goddess called Eostre, whose name gives us both Ostara and Easter. The monk Saint Bede describes Eostre as a goddess with fertility associations, which loosely connects her to both rabbits and eggs. Author Jacob Grimm (Grimm’s fairy tales) suggested that eggs were a symbol of early European Paganism.
In some early cultures, the nocturnal hare was actually considered a symbol of the moon. In addition to feeding at night, the hare’s gestation period is approximately 28 days – the same as a full lunar cycle. In European folklore, the rabbit connection to eggs is one based on confusion. In the wild, a hare’s nest is known as a form. When the hares abandoned a form, it was sometimes taken over by plover birds, who would then lay their eggs in it. The locals would then find eggs in the hare’s form.
The character of the “Easter Bunny” first appeared in 16th-century German writings, which said that if well-behaved children built a nest out of their caps or bonnets, they would be rewarded with colored eggs. This legend became part of American folklore in the 18th century, when German immigrants settled in the eastern U.S.
Today, the Easter business is a huge commercial venture – Americans spend nearly $1.2 billion a year on Easter candy, and another $500 million on Easter decorations each year.