Gifting the Bunny on Easter
Spring is in the air, and with it come signs of the impending Easter holiday. Rows of chocolate line store shelves, along with pastel-colored marshmallow chicks. For many, the religious significance of Easter is eclipsed by another ancient symbol: the Easter bunny.
Where Did the Easter Bunny Tradition Come From?
The Easter bunny legend can be clearly traced back to thirteenth-century Germany, where pagan celebrations were common. Feasts were held in honor of the goddess of spring and fertility on the vernal equinox. The rabbit became her symbol because of its high reproduction rate. As Christianity spread, its traditions and lore merged with the pre-existing pagan legends, giving us the egg-hiding rabbit that we know today.
Do Live Bunnies Make Good Easter Gifts?
It has become a tradition for many to buy a live rabbit to present to children as a gift on Easter. In most cases, this becomes an unfortunate decision for all involved, but especially for the rabbit. Many people are uneducated about the commitment that caring for a rabbit entails. Did you know that rabbits can live up to (and occasionally beyond) ten years and require as much care as would a dog? Despite their cuddly appearance, rabbits are actually quite fragile creatures and are typically very uncomfortable when they are held for any length of time. Rabbits are ground creatures, which need room to roam. They often grow much larger than they start out … and if you do not take precautions to bunny-proof your home, you risk the rabbit chewing through power cords and furniture. If you do not spay or neuter your bunny, they will spray, marking your home. If you are absolutely prepared for all of this, feel free to contact your local rabbit rescue about adoption.
Each year, right around Easter, the number of surrenders to rabbit rescues skyrocket. Many people simply do not know what to expect from a pet rabbit. Many parents have good intentions when buying a baby bunny for their children. Make Mine Chocolate tells the cautionary tale of a mother who had purchased a tiny white bunny as an Easter present for her kids. She did not anticipate the work that would go into caring for him, or the fact that he would grow into an 8.5-pound rabbit who was not remotely interested in playing with her children. As is the case with so many “Easter rabbits,” this one wound up in a shelter. As a result, we strongly suggest forgoing the live Easter rabbit, and giving an alternative gift instead.
Alternatives to Live Rabbits as Easter Gifts:
As Make Mine Chocolate points out, chocolate Easter bunnies or stuffed toy animals typically make better Easter gifts than live rabbits. To make your gift go even farther, there are a number of groups, such as Rescue Chocolate, which have partnered with House Rabbit Society to promote Make Mine Chocolate. Many of the partner organizations will be donating all or part of their profits to rabbit rescues.
Resources for Rabbit Lovers:
If you’re interested in learning more about the plight of the Easter bunny, or you want to know how to help, check out some of the following resources: