The Other German Animals That Brought Eggs

I’ve been reading Georg Franck of Franckenau’s essay from the 1600’s, “De Ova Paschalia” (On Easter Eggs). In it, he says that the Easter Hare actually stole eggs from the hens, then magically dyed them and hid them as mischief. The kids were then charged with finding and bringing them back.

This article makes an interesting point, linking the Easter Hare or Easter Bunny to an old motif found around the world, but in Germany used as related to the Trinity. It’s a motif where three rabbits were drawn in a circle so that all three rabbits had two ears each, but there were only three ears drawn in all. This is called the “Dreihasenbildes” or Three Hares motif. Apparently it was very common to draw the Dreihasenbildes on Easter eggs, often with each hare in a different primary color.

Medieval Jews have a similar motif in their synagogues, but there it represents the people of God as weak but protected by God, based on earlier translations of Prov. 30:26 (“The bunnies are a weak people who make their bed in the rock”) and Ps. 103:18/104:18 (“The high hills are a refuge for the harts, the rock for the bunnies.”) Christians interpreted these verses similarly, but regarded Jesus as the Rock.

The same article says that there was also a group of more benign animals who delivered eggs: the Easter hen (in the Tyrol), the Easter rooster (Upper Bavaria, Thuringia, Schleswig-Holstein, and Austria), the Easter fox (Hannover), the Easter stork or Easterbird (near the Netherlands), the cuckoo (in parts of Switzerland), and the Easter lamb (some parts of Upper Bavaria).

But in Vosges and Carinthia, the church bells fly around bringing Easter eggs! From Rome!

“When the bells fall silent on Holy Thursday, the bells fly to Rome to fetch the eggs. When they return on Holy Saturday, as they fly over they throw eggs into the grass, where the children have to look for them.”

This article talks a lot about various German customs like egg-tapping, and about the eggs that the hens laid on Holy Thursday being seen as particularly blessed.

St. Ephrem of Syria sang in one of his rhythms about the return to life of many of the saints in Jerusalem on the Day of the Lord’s Resurrection, “… the tombs were broken open like an egg, and the entombed bodies rose and came to life….”

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