At easter I posted a picture of a sea hare and completely forgot my intended post with this interesting bit of trivia. The original "easter bunny" was supposedly a hare, hares having fairly deep spiritual significance going back to all sorts of roots - the trickster of Africa, and other myths in Ireland, Rome and all over the show.
It makes sense that hares would be brought into the emerging Christian celebrations therefore especially those in Spring when in western Europe hares would be very visible performing their boxing displays.
So this is all very good but why does the hare/bunny have eggs? Its a mammal afterall (and not a platypus or echidna at that). Well apparently these chaps are responsible:
At the same time early europeans were watching hares performing their boxing matches they would be finding lapwing eggs. Lapwings are ground-nesters that often favour similar habitats to hares and their nests look a bit like the hollows hares leave leverets in and well...you can see where the confusion led - the eggs must be hare's eggs.
One side of this story has never rung true to me though. Lapwings are one of the most visible nesting birds which go into an elaborate broken wing sham whenever you go near a nest (and please don't this deliberately they're now getting very rare (I've seen this once fifteen years ago)) - surely someone should have cottoned on? I had wondered if this gave them their name but apparently "it derives from the Old English word 'hleapewince', which means 'leap with a flicker in it'."
Phew - that got longer than I expected; what a lot of edu-tainment we provide for you all at E,W & W!