The Victorian Easter Bunny

Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

Eleanor Rose

Captain
Forum Host
Joined
Nov 26, 2016
Messages
5,803
Location
central NC
easter-card-19th-century-image-via-santa-clara-county-library-1.jpg

Easter Card, 19th Century.
(Image via Santa Clara County Library)

Though the origin of Easter eggs and Easter bunnies can be traced back to ancient times, our Victorian friends did not begin to celebrate Easter in the way that we know it until the late 19th century. It was then that Easter bunnies became fashionable. According to American author Linda Beard in her 1893 book, How to Amuse Yourself and Others, it was in Germany—not in England or the United States—that children first believed in the “Easter hare.”​

“In Germany, too, we should find that children believe as sincerely in the Easter hare as they do in Santa Claus in our country; and the saying, that ‘the hares lay the Easter eggs,’ is never doubted by the little ones.”

By the 1890s, Beard reports that it was not uncommon to see an image of a “hare wheeling his barrowful of eggs” displayed in the United States and England. Newspapers of the late 19th century featured advertisements for decorative Easter cards and Easter eggs made of every material one can imagine. It seems the most unique variety of fashionable Easter egg in 1893 was "one made of plain, hinged wood that, when opened, revealed an interior bursting with rosebuds, violets, and other spring flowers."

easter-bunny-postcard-circa-1915.jpg

Easter Bunny Postcard circa 1915.

For those of more moderate means, plain eggs boiled and dyed were the most popular Easter eggs of all. Onion peel added to boiling water would dye an egg terracotta brown. A spoonful of aniline dye would tint an egg “a fashionable, but unbeautiful” magenta. And if one wanted to dye their Easter eggs a “lovely ebony-black,” the Tamworth Herald advised them to boil them in a mixture of young rye and water.

By 1897, commercial Easter egg dyes were also available. Donnell Manufacturing, a St. Louis based company, was the first to capitalize on the German myth of the Easter hare by using colored lithographs of four white rabbits and eight colored Easter eggs to advertise their White Rabbit Easter Egg Dye—which included directions in both German and English. Their idea caught on quickly and it wasn’t long before imitators sprang up across the country.

easter-card-1908-image-via-nypl.jpg

Easter Card circa 1908.
(Image via New York Public Library)

By the turn of the century, confectioners were making chocolate bunnies and Easter cards were featuring rabbits on their covers. Soon, images of rabbits at Easter were almost as common as images of Easter eggs themselves.

Today, the Easter bunny has become an inextricable part of Easter celebrations for most Americans. In many ways, he is as much a holiday icon as Santa Claus.

Happy Easter to all my CWT friends!!!


Sources:

“About Easter Eggs.” The Tamworth Herald. April 8, 1893.

Beard, Linda. How to Amuse Yourself and Others. New York: Scribner & Sons, 1893.

“The Hare and Easter.” American Notes and Queries. Volume 5. Philadelphia: Westminster Publishing, 1890.

Mimi Matthews' Extras, March 25, 2016.
 

Steph-GB

Sergeant
Joined
Mar 26, 2018
Messages
701
Location
Land of the tractors
My kids love the Easter excitement.. I have bunny feet already waiting to do an Easter egg hunt.. last week at work we had 28 kids.. including my lot.. and they all blew eggs and we dip dyed them into lovely colours! Was ofcourse very messy though ! My kids all have their fav Disney plush for Easter and they are all dressed up as bunny’s! And ofcourse a giant chocolate rabbit each .. poor bunnies!

I hope the joys of Easter brings you all some great fun times! Happy Easter :chicken:
 

Attachments

Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

Patrick H

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Mar 7, 2014
Messages
10,441
That second illustration is rather like a medieval rendering of a human baby, insofar as all the "children" rabbits have faces rendered like little adults. You can only appreciate my thought if you look at some medieval paintings of the Madonna with Child, or other such illustrations.
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

Waterloo50

Major
Forum Host
Silver Patron
Joined
Jul 7, 2015
Messages
4,809
Location
Blighty.
That second illustration is rather like a medieval rendering of a human baby, insofar as all the "children" rabbits have faces rendered like little adults. You can only appreciate my thought if you look at some medieval paintings of the Madonna with Child, or other such illustrations.
Have you seen the art work of Beatrix Potter, her work was very similar.
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

Waterloo50

Major
Forum Host
Silver Patron
Joined
Jul 7, 2015
Messages
4,809
Location
Blighty.
I've always wondered how the Brits got a rabbit mixed up with colored Easter eggs. Are either of those traditional symbols of Easter from bygone eras?
Next you’ll be questioning the Christmas frog and the Halloween turtle.....:smoke:....seriously though, I thought everyone knew that rabbits lay eggs, well, that’s what us Brits think.
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!
Joined
Mar 3, 2017
Messages
9,823
Location
Chicagoland
Holy Cow! It was the Germans! Calling @Schwallanscher and @2/241 !

"According to some sources, the Easter bunny first arrived in America in the 1700s with German immigrants who settled in Pennsylvania and transported their tradition of an egg-laying hare called “Osterhase” or “Oschter Haws.” Their children made nests in which this creature could lay its colored eggs." Source
 

Steph-GB

Sergeant
Joined
Mar 26, 2018
Messages
701
Location
Land of the tractors
So I see it’s also you jolly lot that brought the Easter parade into action in the 1800’s.. and there fore I shall thank you for the many hours I sit making Easter hats for the kids to do their Easter parades in school each year! :O o:
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

nitrofd

Colonel
Joined
Jan 20, 2013
Messages
13,808
Location
north central florida
Holy Cow! It was the Germans! Calling @Schwallanscher and @2/241 !

"According to some sources, the Easter bunny first arrived in America in the 1700s with German immigrants who settled in Pennsylvania and transported their tradition of an egg-laying hare called “Osterhase” or “Oschter Haws.” Their children made nests in which this creature could lay its colored eggs." Source
This is bad,more now to hear how the germans did everything first.
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!
Top