The March Hare

I’ve seen hares running in the bottom field this week. They are usually nocturnal creatures that remain hidden during the hours of daylight and it is only during the mating season they are abroad in daylight. It is a magical sight. The expression ‘mad as a March hare’ refers to their wild behaviour during March when they may be observed boxing or leaping into the air as they prepare to mate.  Hares are prolific breeders, producing two to four litters a year, and a female hare can even conceive while she is still pregnant.  It is not surprising that hares are associated both with the season and with fertility. Even now we have the idea of the Easter Bunny delivering eggs, a tradition imported into Britain from America, via Germanic immigrants, who had their own traditions of the Easter Hare who comes at night to lay eggs for the Easter egg hunt. [1] So where did the idea come from that hares lay eggs at Easter? Unlike rabbits, hares do not burrow into the earth, but live their entire lives above ground, creating a shallow depression known as a ‘form’ as a nest.  Ground nesting birds, such as plovers and lapwings, also build their nests on open grassland or arable farmland at this time, and people coming across eggs in a nest that looked rather like a hare’s form may have jumped to that conclusion. Finding such eggs in spring was probably the origin of the Easter egg hunt.

[1] Jacqueline Simpson & Steve Roud, A Dictionary of English Folklore, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2000


Author: annafranklinblog

Anna Franklin is the High Priestess of the Hearth of Arianrhod, which runs teaching circles, a working coven, and the annual Mercian Gathering, a Pagan camp which raises money for charity. She regularly speaks at conferences, moots and workshops around the country. She is the author of many books on witchcraft and Paganism, including the popular Pagan Ways Tarot, Sacred Circle Tarot, The Fairy Ring, Herb Craft, Magical Incenses and Oils, Personal Power, A Romantic Guide to Handfasting, Familiars, The Oracle of the Goddess, Hearth Witch, The Path of the Shaman and The Hearth Witch’s Compendium. Anna’s books have been translated into nine languages.

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