Monday, April 5, 2010

Easter Lagomorph

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The things you think about at 2am. Why did the Easter Hare turn into an Easter Bunny? It's a German tradition and in German, it's the Osterhase, the Easter Hare. It came to the US with the Pennsylvania Dutch and was still a hare then, the Osterhas or Oschter Haws. Postcard still show hares, like this one (poor chick, it will think it's a hare for the rest of his life...):

And then it suddenly turns into a bunny. Why is that? Is it because bunnies are cuter than hares? They do fit better into the pattern we recognize as cute with their big, round head. Or is it because hares are not as common in the US and the most common hare species are called jackrabbits anyway? This really is just guesswork and I may be wrong about how common hares are in the US, though. In Germany, they are rare now, but that is a recent developement. These days, most people have never seen a hare and often don't know that there is a difference between hares and rabbits. Despite using the word Osterhase, Easter decorations and postcards show rabbits and here comes the cute-theory again. Also, people keep rabbits as pets and for food and are much more familiar with them.
In Australia, there has been a campaign to introduce the Easter Bilby. Rabbits are not very popular there, they are a major pest, and it's a way to raise awareness for the endangered native species. The Bilby does have one thing going for it as Easter animal: it has a pouch to carry the eggs in and doesn't need to bother itself with the basket or wheelbarrow the Osterhase is usually shown with.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Jennifer! Thanks for visiting my blog & leaving a comment.

    I spent some time on your blog and found it interesting. When I looked at the post,, I was surprised to see how your opinions about life's bigger issues coincide with mine! I'll be back!