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How to talk to kids about the Easter Bunny and keep the magic alive 

Is the Easter Bunny real? Let's hop to it!
Bunny ears on yello
Easter Bunny season is just a hop, skip, and a jump away! Getty Images

While Easter Sunday is the Christian celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, many celebrate the onset of spring beyond the religious connotations through a magical bunny that hides eggs and brings candy to kids.

While kids might ask "Is the Easter Bunny real?" there are other questions we have in mind, like, what is the history of the Easter Bunny? And when is the best time to talk to kids about the Easter Bunny? Here's what we found out.

History of the Easter Bunny

The history of the Easter Bunny is not entirely clear, with several theories about it circulating online. There’s no mention of the Easter Bunny in the Bible of course, so its origins aren’t necessarily religious. And why does the Easter Bunny bring eggs to children on the holiest day of the Christian calendar? 

Rabbits have long been a symbol of abundant procreation (insert joke here) and new life. The eggs the bunny brings are common symbols of fertility and birth. Easter and the resurrection are synonymous for Christians with the promise of new life after death, also represented by spring itself. Additionally, the Virgin Mary sometimes appears in works of art with a white rabbit or hare by her side. 

According to History.com, the “Easter bunny first arrived in America in the 1700s with German immigrants who settled in Pennsylvania and transported their tradition of an egg-laying hare called ‘Osterhase’ or ‘Oschter Haws.’ Their children made nests in which this creature could lay its colored eggs. Eventually, the custom spread across the United States and the fabled rabbit’s Easter morning deliveries expanded to include chocolate and other types of candy and gifts, while decorated baskets replaced nests.”

Another theory is that the historical origins of the Easter Bunny are actually rooted in a pagan celebration of Eostre, the goddess of fertility and crops. The colors green, yellow and purple dominated the celebration and the symbols of the celebration were hares and eggs. Sounds familiar! 

Is the Easter Bunny real? 

Whether or not the Easter Bunny is real is up to the child who chooses to believe or not. It’s also up to the parents to decide how to approach the subject of whether the Easter Bunny is real to their children. 

Dr. Joshua Stein, a child and adolescent psychiatrist and clinical director at PrairieCare, tells TODAY.com that while some parents may question if celebrating this tradition is an act of lying to their children that could cause distrust, “parents should note that there is a significant difference between creating wonderment for children and lying to them. The Easter Bunny and all the fun Easter brings, like egg hunts, family togetherness and more, infuses childlike joy into the holiday. It preserves the imagination and joy of childhood.” 

Stein also notes the timeline of when children tend to believe in the Easter Bunny “is developmentally appropriate, during a time of creativity and rapid growth.” 

How to talk to kids about the Easter Bunny 

How to talk to kids about the Easter Bunny depends on their age. As kids approach the ages of roughly 9-11, Stein said, they “developmentally start to question everything,” which may include the Easter Bunny. 

“As they get older, it is OK to honor their curiosity, awareness and scrutiny,” Stein says. “They will naturally question the Easter Bunny and other fantastic beliefs of childhood. This is healthy and expected. Some children may fight these observations in an effort to keep the fun going while others may challenge them assertively. Some may celebrate their ability to figure out this ‘secret world.’ Perhaps more common is that a child will doubt and then believe, and back and forth. One foot in the magic of childhood and the other in the knowing world of adults.” 

This transformation, Stein tells TODAY.com, could take years and it’s important parents allow kids this time to “move through the process as they develop their own awareness of the world.”

When to tell kids about the Easter Bunny? 

There is no “right” time to tell kids about the Easter Bunny, as Stein notes, many will start to figure it out on their own within a certain age range. 

“From a psychological perspective, we all have different ranges of belief in the fantastic,” he says. “Even as adults, beliefs like superstitions continue to permeate. If a child struggles or is upset, validate this confusion, but also praise that they figured it out. Remind them that the tradition will continue regardless and that they can take their time.”

If an older sibling finds out about the Easter Bunny but parents want to keep the magic going for younger kids, Stein advises a “proactive and healthy response is to bring them [the older child] in on it. Have them help out with the traditional parent roles. Let them stay up late and set out Easter eggs. Take them on the Target run to buy candy for the baskets. This creates new memories and celebrations.” 

And he has similar when it comes to maintaining magic for other kids.

“It’s important to coach children that, just like they had the opportunity to figure it out, it is important to let other children do it on their own time,” Stein says. “If sadly your child had the Easter Bunny ruined too early by a peer, allow them time to grieve, but also maintain belief. Often parents are surprised by how quickly disbelief is suspended by the wonder, awe and magic of childhood.”