No more Easter Bunny…bring back the Eostre Hare.

30 Mar

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The Hare has long been revered in Irish folklore. Witches were often said to shape shift into hares and the Celtic peoples forbade the eating of Hares and Rabbits.

What has the Hare got to do with Easter? In olden days what we know as Easter was a celebration of the lenghtening days and the return of fertility to the land. Eostre was the Moon Goddess worshipped at that time, it is said she took the form of a hare at the time of the full Moon. When Christianity came along this time became Easter and the Hare became the Easter Bunny. The Hare was discarded because of its witchy associations.

My Mother recalls my Grandfather telling stories about a local woman, in Tipperary, whom everyone called Kitty the Hare. Kitty was reputed to have been a witch. She changed into a hare and went about causing devilment and casting spells and curses. So it is reputed.

A story told to a folklore collector tells:

Long ago the people used to turn themselves into hares by witchcraft and go from house to house sucking the milk from the cows. These people could only be done away with by shooting them with a crooked sixpence. I know of a woman who turned herself into a hare. Her name was Mrs. Hutchinson, a Protestant woman from Ryeforth in Cavan. She went to my Grandfather’s, Ennie Goldrick RIP, and sucked the milk from his cows. Grandfather saw her, got his gun, loaded it with a crooked sixpence, fired at the Hare and hit it on the head. The Hare ran off and he followed it to a nearby house where he found a woman with bleeding from her head.”

This story was collected in Cavan in 1936.

The wonderful Hare in the photo was painted by local woman Jessie Skillen who lives in Ballinafad, Co. Sligo. Isn’t it great, I love it! When we are finished decorating it will hang in a prime position. You can check out Jessie’s  work on Facebook at Sylvan Hare Arts.

Hope you all have a wonderful Easter/Eostre. May the days become sunny and your gardens become fruitful once more.

Bridget x.

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19 Responses to “No more Easter Bunny…bring back the Eostre Hare.”

  1. John Willmott March 30, 2013 at 9:23 pm #

    Oh dear, the Cavan Hare that steals milk. The hare story I know of this time was Mary who became a hare, but her job was to scurry around to spread the seeds and transplant the new shoots so that they would provide the year’s food and medicines for the people exactly where they need them.

    • bridget March 30, 2013 at 9:25 pm #

      A nicer Hare than the Cavan or Tipperary ones then!!

  2. comfreycottages March 30, 2013 at 11:54 pm #

    I love hearing legends and lore.. the hare is symbolic for me for it’s ability to go between the worlds, thus an ally of mine in dreamwork. What a gorgeous hare! off to check out that page! xxx

  3. Freaky Folk Tales March 31, 2013 at 4:04 am #

    Thank you for sharing such a fascinating tale. Regards, Paul

    • bridget March 31, 2013 at 9:01 am #

      No probs Paul. just had a look at your site…veeerry interesting. Following.
      Bridget.

  4. Leigh March 31, 2013 at 10:51 am #

    Very interesting. It’s amazing how these tales stick with our culture over the years.

    • bridget March 31, 2013 at 3:15 pm #

      Yes it is! I love all that folklore stuff. I wish I’d written down more of my Grandparent’s stories. They were great storytellers.
      x.

  5. elaine March 31, 2013 at 12:26 pm #

    We used to have a lot a hares in the fields behind our house but I haven’t seen one for a long time – funny how things change.

    • bridget March 31, 2013 at 3:16 pm #

      Changes in farming practices is leading to their decline I think. x

  6. Mizz Winkens March 31, 2013 at 1:30 pm #

    The druids regarded the Hare as a symbol of fertility hence it’s association with Spring and new life. The Hare was once thought to lay eggs, probably down to the nest-like flattened patch of grass called a “form” where they rear their young. And so it became synonymous with Easter eggs before it was replaced with a cuddlier bunny image. We could write a book with all these stories- I love them!!

    • bridget March 31, 2013 at 3:18 pm #

      Me too! Love all that stuff. The old Irish folks were brilliant storytellers…it all died out a bit when TV came along. x

  7. KL March 31, 2013 at 2:49 pm #

    Ah! I love folklores :-). Do you that it is also believed that Easter actually originated from Goddess Ishtar, the Assyrian and Babylonian Goddess of fertility and sex. Her symbols were also eggs and bunnies. All these ancient civilizations – celtic, mesopotamia, India, china, assyrian, babylonian, egyptian — they have so much things in common, and which to me shows that we are all connected and come from the same origin.

    • bridget March 31, 2013 at 3:19 pm #

      It is amazing how versions of the same story are there in different cultures. Bit like Noah’s Ark, so many versions of this story. I love that. x

  8. Shawndra Miller March 31, 2013 at 3:16 pm #

    Love this! Happy Eostre to you too.

  9. Charlie@Seattle Trekker April 1, 2013 at 4:16 am #

    Wonderful bit of folk history, thank you for sharing.

  10. PJ April 1, 2013 at 6:23 pm #

    What a great tale – it’s sad to think that the craft of storytelling is becoming rare but what a treat to read your folklore 🙂

    • bridget April 2, 2013 at 9:05 am #

      Thanks! My Grandfather and people of his era were the real storytellers. I just wish I’d written down some of his stories when he was living but of course at that time I was a wild teenager and not interested in that stuff.
      x.

  11. sweffling April 6, 2013 at 8:36 am #

    I just love that decorated hare! And yes, let’s get rid of that sentimental Easter bunny and reinstate the Hare.

  12. Garden Correspondent April 28, 2013 at 8:28 pm #

    I see hares on our road at night once in a while and have always admired them for their strength. It was interesting, then, for me to read this bit of lore. Your painted hare is lovely, as are the potted plants!

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