Hares and rabbits are fertility symbols of antiquity. Since they give birth to large litters in the early spring, they became symbols of the rising fertility of the earth at the vernal equinox and thus they are Christian Easter rebirth symbol. In European literature, we see a white rabbit portrayed in Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland. This nervous rabbit begins the story by holding a timepiece and muttering the unforgettable words, "Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late!" In African and American oral tradition, the rabbit is an archetypal, always lovable trickster. Likewise in Japanese lore, the white rabbit proves too clever and arrogant for its own good, meeting disastrous ends. In the Chinese zodiac, the rabbit is the happiest of the twelve symbols, being kind, popular, affectionate and obliging. Native American legend holds the rabbit as a spirit guide, reminding those of us who are physically vulnerable to seek safety in numbers and to "leap over obstacles in your path." It also counsels one to remain calm in times of danger, much like the rabbit "freezes" when a predator approaches, relying first on its camouflage color to hide in plain sight before fleeing when absolutely necessary!
The rabbit has long been a symbol of birth, rebirth, renewal, and springtime. The spring holiday of Easter has its origins in the pagan festival honoring Eastur / Eostre / Ostara, the Saxon Mother goddess whose symbol was a rabbit.
The rabbit is sacred to Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, beauty, and fertility. In ancient Greece, live rabbits were given as love gifts. Rabbits' ability to reproduce quickly and abundantly makes the animal a natural symbol of fertility.
The association of rabbits with good luck likely traces to the ancient pagan cultures of Europe. Today, people in many countries around the world carry a rabbit's foot for good luck!
Example of known uses of rabbit
The coat of arms of the town of Harjager
The salient hare in the arms of this town in southern Sweden is a canting emblem - the Swedish and English words for hare are the same. The first recorded use of the arms was in a county seal dated 1524.
This small East Anglian soccer team - known locally as "the hares" - take their emblem from the canting device in their village crest. The leaping animal is also a reference to the Hare and Hounds, a historic local public house.
The Playboy Bunny logo is recognized all over the world, and the iconic rabbit is merchandised on hundreds of products.
Bugs Bunny represents Warner Brothers The expression, "What's up, Doc?" is now a part of common English speech.
Peter Rabbit symbol
English writer and illustrator Beatrix Potter's Peter Rabbit is familiar to children everywhere.