Some cool chick here in Japan asked me, “Yo dude – what’s with those chocolate bunnies at Easter? My dad told me you guys like used to eat real rabbits, but now they’re made out of chocolate and shit like that.”
Having no idea myself where the Easter Bunny came from, I flashed back to stories I heard of my mother’s German uncle coming to her house and cooking her pet rabbit.
“Duuude, like prolly!” I said back to her.
But then I looked it up.
And Wikipedia told me that hares (who have like a million babies at a time) and eggs were fertility symbols in the Vernal Equinox of Northern Europe. The Vernal Equinox is in spring. Easter is in spring.
There you go. (link)
By the way, there are also fertility symbols in Japan, namely
GIANT STEEL PENISES.*
*All right, let me rephrase that. The Kanamara Matsuri is a festival in Kawasaki, Japan that sometimes coincides with Easter (both are the 1st Sunday in April this year). And while I can’t find anything that says these penises are actually meant to be a symbol of fertility, the festival is apparently based off of an Ainu legend.
This Huffington Post article sums it up:
Penis statues, candles, lollipops and masks are just some of the novelty goods you’ll come across during the festival. The penis dates back to a Japanese myth that involving a blacksmith, a demon and a young woman. It’s said that the demon tried to woo the young woman but when she refused its advances, it figured that if it can’t have her, no man could and possessed her vagina.
Yeah, it took over her vagina and gave it teeth. The young woman tried to move on her with life, get married and start a family but the demon wasn’t done tormenting her. When her first two fiancées tried to have sex with her, the demon bit off their penises.
Well, the young woman needed help, so she turned to a local blacksmith who came up with a plan. He was going to de-teeth her vagina with a steel penis. The young woman went along with the plan and when the demon went to bite down on the steel phallus, it shattered its teeth. As a result, the demon fled and left the young woman to carry on with her life. Or so the story goes. -(link)
Cool fact! The festival has apparently become a means to raise money to research HIV! Check it oot!
(side note: some of the links on the Wikipedia page for this festival are whack… surprise surprise)