The Eggstaordinary reason we celebrate Easter with a bunny

Easter eggs, the Easter Bunny and bright yellow chicks are all synonymous with Easter, and a bit like Father Christmas and present giving at Christmas seem to have over-taken the true meaning behind why we celebrate Easter. In fact, can you actually name any marketing or ads (apart from the ones put out by Churches) that allude to the religious side of Easter? Thought not! It’s almost as though bunnies and chicks have become the ubiquitous brand symbols for Easter.

But given it’s meant to be one of the more important religious occasions in the Christian calendar, why is it awash with bunnies and chicks as they definitely don’t feature in the Bible?  We decided to find out why and how their images are used in some memorable advertising.

The Easter Bunny’s origin story

Unsurprisingly, there are a number of theories about how the Easter Bunny became such an important part of our Easter traditions.

One of those is that the Easter Bunny, or the Easter Hare, as it was known then, originated among German Lutherans. Just like Father Christmas, the Easter Bunny decided which children had been good, or bad, and delivered gifts to the well-behaved ones in the shape of brightly coloured eggs and sweets.

Other sources suggest the Easter Bunny is in fact a pagan symbol linked to the festival of Eostre, the Germanic goddess of spring and fertility. She found an injured bird and transformed it into a rabbit so it could survive the long cold winter. But the rabbit found it could still lay eggs, so each spring would decorate them and leave them as an offering to Eostre, as a thank you for saving its life. Like many pagan symbols, stories, and rituals, the image of the egg-giving rabbit was then incorporated into Christian Easter celebrations.

And if you think that’s all a bit strange, just remember in Switzerland they have the Easter Cuckoo. Enough said!

What about Easter eggs and chicks?

Just like the Easter Bunny, there are many theories behind why eggs and chicks are so important at Easter.

For pagans, eggs have long been a symbol of rebirth, new life and new beginnings and were often used in pagan festivals to celebrate the arrival of spring. In fact, the whole tradition of decorating and hiding eggs at Easter is thought to stem from those festivals.

From a Christian perspective, the egg it thought to represent Christ’s rock tomb, and the emerging chick his resurrection.

Others think there is a more practical reason for the link between eggs and Easter. In the past, rules on fasting during Lent were much stricter than today, and Christians weren’t allowed to eat any animal products, including eggs. Since chickens didn’t stop producing, people hard boiled the eggs to save wasting them and then decorated them to celebrate the end of the 40 days fast.

And we have J.S.Fry & Sons Limited to thank for taking this tradition to the next level in 1873 when they created the first ever chocolate Easter egg. And what a masterstroke that was as today, between 80 and 90 million Easter eggs are sold in the UK every year.

Classic Easter advertising campaigns

Just like Father Christmas, the Easter Bunny and chicks have taken on a life of their own and become a common feature in Easter campaigns.  Here are some particularly memorable ones.

Lindt Gold Bunny

Let’s start with probably the most famous Easter Bunny of all, the Lindt Gold Bunny.

Inspired by his daughter, the Lindt Gold Bunny first appeared in 1952. It was wrapped in gold foil to make it shine and adorned with a red ribbon and little bell so his daughter would always be able to find it, unlike the rabbit she had seen in their garden. They were an instant hit in Germany but didn’t reach the UK until 1996. Now, around 150 million Lindt Gold Bunnies are produced every year in over 50 countries.

Make your own Easter Bunny

This is just genius. A flat-pack Easter Bunny, from the company renowned for flat-pack furniture – Ikea. It’s been so successful since it first came out in 2019, that it’s been a staple ever since, and let’s face it, preferable to assembling a bookcase over the Easter holidays!

The Easter Egg Hunt

Easter egg hunting has become a big part of Easter tradition, so it’s hardly surprising Cadbury decided to capitalise on this. And they made history! Back in 2018, they launched the first ever live 360-degree Facebook video Easter egg hunt. For just one hour, users could scour the digital landscape looking for chocolate eggs and anyone who found one would have some real chocolate delivered straight to them.

A Giant Hen

Back in 2016, Asda thought an ad with a 30ft chocolate hen was a good way of demonstrating how seriously Asda takes Easter – after all, which other supermarket had a giant hen laying chocolate Easter eggs for its customers?!

The ad was accompanied by press, outdoor, radio, and even their own spoof news channel to support their social media work.

Quite frankly, this ad puts us off having Easter eggs at all!

A Dancing Chick

Asda really love using chickens in their ads, but at least this one is cute and fluffy. To accompany the TV ad, Asda also invited fans to create their own personalised chick dance routine. Sadly, these aren’t available to watch anymore, but then what could top a moonwalking chick? Probably nothing!

The True Easter Bunny

There are certain parallels between this ad and Eostre, the goddess of spring and fertility, but even so, this ad is just plain weird. With themes of discrimination, bullying, acceptance, and family, it’s definitely a different way of advertising a supermarket! Not sure it really works, but it’s certainly memorable.

And talking about advertising – each year we complain Easter eggs are being sold in the shops earlier and earlier, well, we think this time Tesco have really taken the biscuit. Despite the Easter weekend only being a few days ago, they are already promoting Easter 2025.

Eggstreme to say the least (well, we had to get another pun in!)