The Easter Rabbit and the moon.
The Moon Rabbit
There are many cultures around the world that see a rabbit in the moon, Latin American, Native American, China, Japan, Korea for example. There are many legends from these countries of how the rabbit got on the face of the moon which is a great honor. This great honor often has to do with a god embodied into a human and a great sacrifice to save a life. (Sound familiar?)
Many Asian legends are variations on the same theme. A Buddhist legend tells the tale of a monkey, an otter, a jackal, and a rabbit who committed to generosity on the day of the full moon.
A old man came along and begged for food. All of the animals gather food for him, but the rabbit having nothing to offer but grass threw himself on the fire offering his own body. The rabbit did not burn, but lived. Instead the man reveal himself to be Śakra (the ruler of heaven). Moved by the sacrifice made to save him, drew the rabbit’s image on the moon to honor him.
Honoring the rabbit
Similar sacrificing myths occur in Mexico, where the rabbit saw a man (the god Quetzalcoatl then living as a human) walking after a long journey, almost dying of hunger and thirst. A rabbit grazing nearby offered his own body for food to save the man from certain death. Quetzalcoatl, like Sakra, was moved by the rabbit’s sacrifice, and raised her up the moon, before setting her free once again on earth (I love how the rabbit is female in this story) saying, “You may be just a rabbit, but everyone will remember you; there is your image in light, for all people and for all times.”
The Chinese folklore, often portrays the rabbit as a companion of the moon goddess Chang’e, constantly pounding the elixir of life for her; but in Japanese and Korean versions it is just pounding the ingredients for rice cake. ( I love Wikipedia)
The Easter Egg
The first full moon after the Spring Equinox, the moon right before Easter is called the Egg Moon. Native Americans named the full moon of each month to help them keep track of the seasons. April’s moon has several names including the Egg Moon, which is the Full Pink Moon. Also called the Full Spouting Grass Moon, and, among coastal Native American tribes, the Full Fish Moon.
During my research I found many interesting myths and symbology of the rabbit, which my Facebookers were right, is often a sign of fertility. In ancient times it was thought that since rabbit reproduced so readily because it was hermaphrodite. Thereafter associated with the Virgin Mary. Want to read more about symbols of the rabbit that I found during my research? Three Hares. (sometimes symbolizing the Trinity) This I found fascinating and plan to research it more.
What do you think of Easter Eggs and Easter Bunnies?