As soon as Valentine's Day is over, department stores immediately switch gears and start displaying their Easter goodies. Jelly beans, marshmallow chicks covered in colored sugar, egg-dying kits, and of course chocolate bunnies have become the symbols that represent the Easter holiday.

I was born and raised Catholic, so obviously I know what the real meaning of Easter is as I assume most people do. But I've always wondered how the Easter Bunny became the "spokes-animal" for this holiday. After a few minutes of searching the web, I found my answer.

According to an article written by Lauren Effron on the Discovery News website, the way we celebrate the Christian holiday of Easter actually has roots in ancient pagan rituals. Effron sites research done by the University of Florida's Center for Children's Literature and Culture saying,

...the origin of the celebration -- and the Easter bunny -- can be traced back to 13th century, pre-Christian Germany, when people worshiped several gods and goddesses. The Teutonic deity Eostra was the goddess of spring and fertility, and feasts were held in her honor on the Vernal Equinox. Her symbol was the rabbit because of the animal’s high reproduction rate.

A blog written on the website, basically says that 2nd century Christian missionaries converted the native tribes to Christianity without them knowing they were being converted by incorporating their preexisting rituals into their teachings. This also kept the missionaries from getting killed.

So enjoy those chocolate bunnies and marshmallow chicks today and wow your family and friends with your new found knowledge.