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Its origins are a bit more complex. Easter was founded as a celebration of Jesus's resurrection. Missionaries found that adding Christian elements to pagan celebrations made conversions a bit easier. So they combined Easter with fertility rites around that time of year, and rabbits and eggs being signs of those, they became symbols of Easter as well. It helped that the resurrection theme went along well with the renewal theme of most pre-Christian spring festivals.
Of course things about sex and coming back from the dead aren't appropriate things to teach children, so the elements got fiddled around with until Easter became a case of Santa Clausmas for many people, with the Easter Bunny being the most prominent figure instead of Jesus.
Compare Santa Claus.
Mentions and appearances:
- In Lobo's Paramilitary Christmas Special, the Easter Bunny hires Lobo to kill Santa Claus as he is sick of the jolly fat man hogging all of the holiday glory.z
- One of the "Council of Legendary Figures" in The Santa Clause 2.
- Then there was the scene toward the end of Home Alone, where an actor playing Santa Claus gets served with a parking ticket on Christmas Eve. "What's next?" he grouses. "Rabies shots for the Easter bunny?"
- Mystery Science Theater 3000 had Mike and the Bots poking fun at Santa and the Easter Bunny's adversarial relationship in Santa Claus.
- Hop is about a bunny who is the latest successor to the title would rather chase his dream of being a rock drummer instead.
- William Joyce's The Guardians of Childhood has E. Aster Bunnymund, a member of an order of Pooka's that have established a series of tunnels that lie beneath much of the Earth. Bunnymund himself is a talented martial artist and swordsman and joins other figures such as Santa Claus in the Guardians team put together by the Man in the Moon.
- In The Dumb Bunnies, the Easter Bunny rides in a shiny red minivan pulled by eight flying Pilgrims every Christmas to drop a bunch of eggs down the chimney.
- The Easter Bunny appears briefly in Merry-Go-Round in Oz, the last of the forty canonical Oz books. He is revealed to live in the land of Oz, with a number of bunny assistants who produce Easter eggs, and invites Dorothy and the Cowardly Lion in for jelly beans carrot tea. The Cowardly Lion is not thrilled with the choice of beverage, but the Easter Bunny quite misses his subtle hints and hospitably keeps offering him more.
- Hilariously played with in an episode of Farscape.
Harvey: (wearing bunny suit) Curious holiday, Easter. A religious leader dies, comes back from the dead, and you end up celebrating like this.
- In Peanuts, Snoopy is the Easter Beagle.
- The Easter Bunny in the Deep 7 game Santa's Soldiers is in a cold war type situation with Santa Claus. Her "peeples army" will work with or against the elves, depsnding on what suits her agenda at the time.
- In the webcomic Holiday Wars, the Easter Bunny kills Santa Claus and declares war on all the other holidays.
- The Easter Bunny is appointed by the Rabbit Council in Kevin and Kell. Kevin used to have the role, but currently it's his stepson Rudy. Who's a wolf.
- Doctor Fun once posited that Easter Bunnies are eusocial.
- There is the French Easter Bunny from Scary Go Round who is actually a Wendigo in a costume. And from Canada.
- Rankin/Bass did at least 3 Easter Bunny specials: Here Comes Peter Cottontail (1971); The First Easter Rabbit (1976) which was based on the children's story, The Velveteen Rabbit; and The Easter Bunny is Comin' To Town (1977). They sure liked that rabbit.
- In at least the original special of Santa Vs The Snowman, Santa is locked in prison, and says that the Easter Bunny is never going to let him live it down.
- There was a Looney Tunes cartoon, "Easter Yeggs", in which Bugs Bunny meets the Easter Bunny -- who tries to foist his egg-hiding chores off on Bugs because he's lazy.
- The Nightmare Before Christmas: Lock, Shock and Barrel were sent to retrieve Santa Claus but instead returned with the Easter Bunny.
- The Easter Bunny made an appearance in the Fairly Oddparents Christmas Special where he and the other holiday figures (and his dog who pretended to be the spirit of Halloween) were upset with Timmy for wishing it was always Christmas. He also had an uncontrollable urge to hide eggs under anything.
- A Claymation Easter has a greedy pig kidnap the Easter Bunny and take his place so that he can get all the lucrative endorsements the Easter Bunny declines.