The colourful myths of Eostre and her hare companion, who in some versions is a bird transformed into an egg-laying rabbit, aren’t historically pagan. They are modern fabrications.
Only one piece of documentary evidence for Eostre exists: a passing mention in Bede’s The Reckoning of Time. Bede explains that the lunar month of Eosturmonath “was once called after a goddess… named Eostre, in whose honour feasts were celebrated.”
Originating among German Lutherans, the “Easter Hare” originally played the role of a judge, evaluating whether children were good or disobedient in behaviour at the start of the season of Eastertide. The Easter Bunny is sometimes depicted with clothes. In legend, the creature carries colored eggs in his basket, candy, and sometimes also toys to the homes of children, and as such shows similarities to Santa Claus or the Christkind, as they both bring gifts to children on the night before their respective holidays.
The custom was first mentioned in Georg Franck von Franckenau’s De ovis paschalibus (‘About Easter Eggs’) in 1682, referring to a German tradition of an Easter Hare bringing Easter eggs for the children.
As you have read, the Easter Bunny is legendary, perhaps not real, yet still luring people of all ages to Easter egg traditions. If nothing else, confectioners are grateful for the legends’ sustainability. And following those grand traditions, Tenby Chamber of Trade & Tourism organises an annual Easter egg hunt around town, on Saturday, 20th April, starting from Lollies Sweetshop at the top of Crackwell Street. Happy hunting.