So much about festivals and celebrations are rooted in the enigma of symbolism that any such occasion whether in religious, cultural and/ or social manifestation tends to be incomplete without at least a couple of symbols explored as essential elements of that definite event in holding. Mostly deep rooted in local beliefs and ancient traditions or emerging from folk tales and lores and legends of a mythical nature are these many a symbols of diverse importance and multifarious meanings that comes to be so integrally associated with that particular observance itself that it leans along that very line of definite identity in its continuous occurring through the times. Sometimes though, even in the continuing case of such legacy in the current context, such association in symbols and allegories, whether as figures and entities or embedded along the adhering to in rituals and customs, can also tend to be rather recent some stemming instead. Explored perhaps as a fun way in adding that extra element to the celebrations or furthered in a new found resonance of a particular ideal in novelty would be these non traditional symbols characterising festivals and the like that enjoys also a significance of their own. In lending their own attributes to eke out even more unique a charm out of that particular occasion in reverence, enjoyment and some eternal human realisations indeed, these symbols are what makes festivals all the more interesting a panoply of events and activities to seek out in all anticipation and zest. And it is in such assertions of their definite dimension in themselves that has so often seen symbols morph their forms to suit the region and parlance in which they are encountered and explored, such that they take upon their identity elements of native leaning and emerge by that account as also even more distinct images in much specificness.
Particularly across the magically mystical meanderings in which the essence of Christ strives to bring upon the world all elements of the merry and the happy and the good and the kind, the many a maverick celebrations entailed out of the religious chartings of Christianity each has such enticing images and symbols alluding to them that makes them all occasions of fun indulgence in all universality despite the definitely godly ideals running prominently through their realms in observance. Christmas for instance is as joyous a sounding of the ho ho hos of the every jolly Santa Claus as it is a commemoration in all reverence of the birth of Jesus himself. And so is Easter known for its colorful bounty of the eggs and the goodies and of course the ever adorable and also ever so dignified image of the Easter Bunny. As symbols of new life, both the bunny and the eggs are integral to Easter celebrations all over the world, that which is essentially a commemoration in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Colorful displays of both the bunny and its eggs therefore make a prominent vision every Easter in just about every corner of the globe where this particular event of Christianity finds interpretation. But unlike other regional derivatives that draw upon a central image of such symbolic figures and entities, the elements of Easter tend to be rather universal in their residing in the spirit of this occasion. It however is in only one part of the whole wide world that the Eastern Bunny is differently depicted but in such notions that surprisingly have nothing to do with the traditional or religious connotations of it as being symbolic of a festival. It instead are such aspects of the referential touching down upon the social and societal fore of being that ekes out a different image than what the Easter animal takes typical shape elsewhere.
Catering to the Australian celebrations of Easter is an animal harbouring certain traits of the rabbit usually evocative of this festival that marks the end of Lent but that which encompasses instead an identity of as native alluding as could be. Transforming from the Eastern Bunny to emerge as the Easter Bilby is this marsupial indigenous to the expanse of the Australian landmass that however had seen a rather sad state of events characterising its existence in times past. Interestingly, the threat to its life in living stemmed from none other than the rabbit itself, making therefore this switch in symbols all the more symbolic whether in religious or non religious connotations of it. With its definite rabbit like ears and a rabbity size as well, this creature in no less cuteness makes known also this liking to the prominent Eastern figure by identifying as the rabbit eared bandicoot as well.
Once hopping and sprinting across a dominant 70% of the Australian wilderness, the Australian bilby though today lists as an endangered species attributable to such setbacks to its continuity in existence as the natural scheme of preying by other wild animals as well as to rapid habitat loss and destruction triggered by more diverse a range of factors. Navigating its way through the ecosystemic range of things with its long pointy nose in definite prominence, the bilby had been drawing upon a lineage extending back by a whopping 15 million years for a considerable indeed stretch of time before the European settlers began to arrive and settle Down Under a couple of centuries ago, ushering in with them a timeline of disruption for these potentially pivotal cuties harbouring within themselves a special affinity in ecological balance. It were the Europeans who brought rabbits along with them into the continent, setting in motion a trail of events that proved to be quite a disruption to the environment. In emerging as pests that destroyed crops and caused additional damage while also driving the local bilby out of its spiral shaped burrow by force of its own rampant digging and eroding, the rabbit might not have managed to command all adoration in all its fluffy cuteness either in its essence as a creature or in its manifestation as a mascot of Easter but it sure displaced the bilby from its happy hunting ground spread far and wide across the Australian mainland. And yet in this mode of almost wiping out the existence of a species so far drawn in its legacy, it has been the rabbit still that endowed upon the bilby a legacy otherwise exclusively alluding to its own reputation in otherwise ‘goodness’.
The story of the bilby charting out its course in being the Australian version of the Easter Bunny might seem to be an account sitting quite fittingly in its very appearance in almost similar inklings of what had also earned it the rabbit eared moniker. But this phenomenon of rather recent history in encompassing indeed that definite identity of the Easter Bilby stemmed from no any profound extension of tradition nor in any particular desire to celebrate a ‘regional’ version of Easter. The concept instead entailed out of a uniquely interesting realm revolving around the documentation by a young girl, the then nine year old Rose- Marie Dusting who in 1968 wrote a story of Billy The Aussie Easter Bilby. Published 11 years later as a book, it was this story in rather innocence that helped popularise the idea of the Bilby potentially being the alternative Easter Bunny drawing though upon such considerations that prioritised instead attempting to save this increasingly vulnerable species.
Today numbering in the thousands is the Australian Bilby that has over the years come to see such charting of its importance in protection and conservation that widely relies on its image in evoking of the Easter narration. The Foundation for Rabbit Free Australia initiated in 1991 the drive to establish the Bilby as the Australian Easter Bunny in its true run along nativity as well as to raise awareness about the real ecological imbalance caused by the acts of the more traditional bunny. And thus it began, this whole tradition in having an Easter symbol of its own that has since seen Australia gobbling on chocolate made bilbies every end of Lent that though encompasses within itself still that guiding spirit of striving to protect the rabbit like creature as a unique species in nature. This means that a portion of the money collected by virtue of sales of these Easter time candies goes into all time conservation efforts of these treasures of the wild, in line with the true celebrations of what Easter commemorates as a festival that truly is symbolic of the resurrection to life, whether that be of the divine truth of the Lord or the ultimate essence of all mortals as long as life is bestowed upon them by forces of the Heaven.