A rabbit is for life, not just for Easter

Do Easter bunnies make good pets?

Stock image of pet rabbits. Credit: nosonjai/Shutterstock.com

In a move that echoes the sentiment, ‘a dog is for life, not just for Christmas’, Pets at Home has decided to suspend the sale and adoption of rabbits during the Easter period.

The UK pet store chain’s decision, effective from March 29 to April 1, across all 457 stores, aims to prevent impulse purchases, by people overcome by the tradition of the Easter bunny.

Highlighting the complex needs of rabbits, the retailer stresses the importance of careful consideration before welcoming a new pet home.

The RSPCA’s findings that a staggering 48 per cent of rabbits were abandoned in 2022 underline the urgency of promoting responsible pet ownership.

Pets at Home hopes this initiative will foster a more informed and committed approach to animal care, ensuring pets are acquired for the right reasons.

Easter bunny origins

The exploration into the origins of Easter’s most enduring symbols reveals the blend of folklore and tradition that shapes our celebrations.

It also casts a light on the responsibilities that come with pet ownership, urging a thoughtful approach to the animals we choose to make part of our families.

From bunnies to eggs

Why do eggs and bunnies become a pairing come Easter? It appears we need to turn our attention to Germany to uncover this peculiar association.

The earliest mention of the Easter Bunny, or ‘Osterhase’ in German, dates back to 1682. This reference was made by Georg Franck von Franckenau in his dissertation ‘De ovos paschalibus (About the Easter eggs)’, highlighting a tradition in the Rhineland-Palatinate and Alsace where children would hunt for eggs supposedly laid by a rabbit.

‘The fable that is told to the naive and children,’ the document notes, revealing the whimsical nature of this tradition.

A tradition hatched in Germany

The combination of hares and eggs, although it seems peculiar, has roots in a charming story. According to Lilla Farmer’s ‘Rabbits in Children’s Books’ (1976), a financially struggling German woman created a game for her children by hiding painted eggs in a bush.

A rabbit’s sudden appearance during their search led the children to believe that it was the bunny that laid the colourful eggs.

This endearing tale marks the beginning of a tradition within the Lutheran community in Germany, a tradition that eventually found its way to the United States, achieving notable popularity.

By 1878, the Easter Bunny had become an integral part of the White House Easter Egg Roll, symbolising the widespread acceptance and celebration of this custom.

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Written by

John Ensor

Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina. He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.