Impurest's Guide to Animals Easter Special - Brown Hare

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Edited By ImpurestCheese

What two issues a week? Well kind of, this issue was written last year for the Easter Period, but ultimately got forgotten about. As such I felt it was time to unleash it on this festive season. Hope you guys enjoy and remember to check out the library to find past issues.

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Easter Special Issue – Brown Hare

[1]
[1]

Kingdom – Animalia

Phylum – Chordata

Class – Mammalia

Order – Lagomorpha

Family – Leporidae

Genus – Lepus

Species – europaeus

Related Species – Brown Hares are part of the genus Lepus which includes species such as the Snowshoe Hare (Lepus americanus), Mountain Hare (Lepus timidus) and the Black Jackrabbit (Lepus insularis) among others. (1)

Range

[2]
[2]

The Real Easter Bunny

The Brown or European Hare is among the largest members of the Order Lagomorpha, with a body length that can be anywhere between 50 and 75cm in length, and reach a weight of up to 7kg. Brown Hares can be distinguished from the European rabbit (Oryctolaguscuniculus), that lives in similar habitats, by their elongated legs, longer black tipped ears and overall larger size. Hares are mostly nocturnal, choosing to spend the day concealed in a depression known as a ‘form’, and only moving when disturbed by human activity or when targeted by a predator.

Like the majority of the species in the order Lagomorpha, Brown Hares are predominantly herbivorous, feeding off grass and weed species, although with the intensification of agriculture the species has been forced to make a shift to eating agricultural crops in addition to their normal diet (2). Hares are communal feeding, with multiple animals providing additional eyes to spot predators such as Red Foxes (Vulpus vulpus) or Buzzards (Buteo buteo). When threatened the Brown Hare bolts, quickly reaching speeds of up to 43mph (70kmph), often running in a zig-zagging pattern to shake off predators. Unlike rabbits, hares are built for endurance running, and can maintain their top speed for many miles and through several obstacles.

Brown Hares have a long mating season, ranging from Janurary through to August, with the majority of the reproductive behaviour occurring in March. While mostly nocturnal, male hares become active during the day in March to April, in the search for females, and will fiercely compete for access to the female, and is the source of the term ‘Mad March Hare’ and ‘March Madness’. During this breeding season Brown Hares are often seen standing on their hind legs boxing with each other and is often incorrectly labelled as males competing over a female. It is however, initiated by an infertile female not ready to breed with the male hares. After breeding the female hares gestates her young for 40 days before giving birth to fully formed young ready to run within two hours of being born.

[3]
[3]

Animals in Folklore #1 - Brown Hare

In amongst the numerous religious icons associated with Easter there is one that seems very different to the sombre aspects of sacrifice and rebirth. I am talking of course, about the Easter Bunny and the brightly coloured eggs he delivers. While readopted for commercial use fairly recently in the late 18th century (3), the imagery itself is ancient, dating back to Ancient Germanic and Scandinavian faiths, and perhaps even further. The animals behind these Easter symbols are the Brown Hare and the Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus).

Perhaps it is easier to explain the biology behind the Saxon belief of Ostara before dipping into the faith aspect. Both Brown Hares and Lapwings breed early in the season, with Lapwings laying eggs at the same time the Hare’s are experiencing ‘March Madness’. The Lapwings lay their eggs on the ground, often in abandoned forms made by the hares, thus connecting the bird to the hare, as well as invoking the classic ‘Easter Nest’ imagery so commonly associated with this time of year.

Northern Lapwings and Brown Hares together [4]
Northern Lapwings and Brown Hares together [4]

That image brings us on to Ostara or Eostre, one of the myriad of dawn goddesses found in various mythologies and faiths around the world. Eostre’s somewhat reluctant dawning was connected to the Vernal Equinox (21st of March in the Northern Hemisphere), with feasts held in her honour for bringing rebirth of the plants and animals back to the land. Such festivals would have coincided with both the Hares and Lapwings breeding cycles, with forms full of eggs probably a common enough sight to be connected with Eostre.

As time went on newer faiths such as Christianity adopted both the spring ceremony and its rebirth message for their own religious figures, as well as the symbol of Hares and Eggs, particularly in Germanic areas. And while the Christian Easter now has a changeable date connected ironically enough to celestial events revolving around the Vernal Equinox, the pagan imagery relating to Eostre has survived.

To that end I took a look on the internet and found some things about the Christian viewing of the pagan aspects of Easter that made me, as an eclectic wiccan, shudder. There were sites suggesting that the Easter Bunny should be removed from Christian imagery, that Christians had the sole rite to celebrate Easter, even that Pagan beliefs had nothing to do with the creation of the holiday. While the story of Jesus being crucified on the cross is indeed an image unique to the Abrahamic faiths, and may even be inspired by a true person, the rebirth is likely an adaptation of either Eostre or an even older pagan figure. In essence Easter should be a celebration of the intertwining of faith, with both the Christian and Pagan elements celebrated together in unison.

To that end I want to wish my Christian friends a Happy Easter, and my Wiccan friends a Merry (and much belated) Ostara.

Impurest Cheese

_______________________________________________________________________________________

Bibliography

1 -www.arkive.org

2 - Smith, A. T.; Johnston, C. H. (2008). "Lepus europaeus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.1. International Union for Conservation of Nature

3 – Gruß vom Osterhasen: Oschter Haws Song : GERMAN WORLD MAGAZINE". Germanworldonline.com. 2011-04-23.

Picture References

1 - http://www.mikerae.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/BL3A5659.jpg

2 - http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/naturelibrary/images/ic/464x261/e/eu/european_hare/european_hare_map.gif

3 - https://c2.staticflickr.com/4/3737/14310280575_f9b4ed3994_b.jpg

4 - http://www.martinridley.com/images/hares_plovers.jpg

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Looks like one of those rabbits from Watership Down don't ya think? :P

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#5  Edited By scavengerFist

Awesome! It's kinda cute how they box with each other.

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#7  Edited By ImpurestCheese

@rocketraccoonthingy: Ironically I just watched Watership Down and yes the rabbits have some hare like features in that film

@scavengerfist: Not so cute once you see it in the flesh. It really is a violent affair

@cbishop: And a happy Easter to you too

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I had no idea you were neo-pagan, a happy belated Ostara to you... From a place where Mabon just passed.

I assumed these guys were more widespread, not that they aren't.

Very interesting to learn where "March hare" comes from. I always wondered wtf that meant lol.

Looks like one of those rabbits from Watership Down don't ya think? :P

So you do have some taste after all... :P

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@black_wreath: Thanks for the comment, and yes I am, a happy belated Mabon to you. Hares are fairly widespread, even being introduced to the UK by the Romans.

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@black_wreath: I actually haven't seen the movie yet. Gunna read the book first. ^_^

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@black_wreath: Thanks for the comment, and yes I am, a happy belated Mabon to you. Hares are fairly widespread, even being introduced to the UK by the Romans.

Thank you for not giving up just yet. :)

It boggles the mind that them chrazy christians would want to remove the pagan aspects of their holidays aka the aspects that make them appealing.

@black_wreath: I actually haven't seen the movie yet. Gunna read the book first. ^_^

Just hurry up so you can cry to Art Garfunkel.

Admit it, it's only on your radar because of my animation blog isn't it? ;)

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#15  Edited By Avatar_of_Green

You are the best! Good post!

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Merry Easter! Today we celebrate the day Jesus killed Hitler in Vietnam

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@cgoodness: Oh I thought that was next week! Silly me.

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Merry Ostara

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@laflux: And a merry Ostara to you too

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@black_wreath said:
@rocketraccoonthingy said:

@black_wreath: I actually haven't seen the movie yet. Gunna read the book first. ^_^

Just hurry up so you can cry to Art Garfunkel.

Admit it, it's only on your radar because of my animation blog isn't it? ;)

Scarborough Fair makes me feel under the weather. You?

Nah.

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@black_wreath said:
@rocketraccoonthingy said:

@black_wreath: I actually haven't seen the movie yet. Gunna read the book first. ^_^

Just hurry up so you can cry to Art Garfunkel.

Admit it, it's only on your radar because of my animation blog isn't it? ;)

Scarborough Shoal makes me feel under the weather. You?

Nah.

No Caption Provided

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#24  Edited By Pipxeroth
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Cool, these are so common where I live I see them almost every morning/evening running around town (it's a small town), it's easy to forget they don't exist everywhere.

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Well as a Christian who used to be married to a Pagan and almost married a Wiccan I'm right there with you on the intertwining of faiths of the whole Easter/Ostera thing.

As far as the other stuff. I had no idea that the eggs kids are supposed to find were rabbit (hare) eggs, and the "nest" they put in their baskets were hare nest eggs. I wonder where "peeps" came into the picture ;)

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#29  Edited By ImpurestCheese

@pipxeroth: And a happy EadEaster ter too you to, thanks for the comment

@bruxae: Lucky you, I love hares ever since I rescued a leveret on an ecological survey. Plenty here too, I see them most evenings.

@heroup2112: Cool, it is a bit of a suprise since most mammals don't lay eggs.

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#30  Edited By HeroUp2112

@impurestcheese: IIiii'mmmm a freakin' genius. You even SAID they give birth to fully formed young. My brain fell outta my head. Okay, now I'm wondering where the egg thing (and still the peeps) came from at all. Dang I feel dumb right now.

EDIT: It's early, I haven't had my Coke (Coca Cola) . That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.

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@heroup2112: Egg thing? Peeps? Such lingo is confusing without contexr I'm afraid

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@impurestcheese: Ugh...so not only am I being dense today, my communications skills are out of whack.

Kids (in the US anyway...I don't know about other places, I just assumed at least Western Europe), color Easter eggs, parents hide them, and the kids look for the eggs left by the "Easter Bunny" on Easter morning. That's what I meant by the "egg thing" Somehow (again in the US) they've become associated with chicks (not full grown chickens) but with baby chickens. Don't ask me why...well you CAN ask me, but I still wouldn't know without looking it up.

On that note "peeps"(again probably just in the US...maybe Canada..I don't know) are little marshmallow "chicks" that are very popular around Easter time. Again, not sure what the association is, but they're very popular.

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#34  Edited By ImpurestCheese

@heroup2112: Ah okay. No Peeps here I'm afraid. As forthe Easter Chick, there is a tale where Eostre changed an injured baby bird (probably a redshank or lapwing) into a hare to make it strong, that's probably where the chick part of the tale comes from

@soulsexodus: Thanks

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Ah, okay. So now I finally know where THAT came from. Thanks. Also, thankfully y'all have been saved from the infection that is Peeps!

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@rocketraccoonthingy: Scarborough Fair makes you cry? Bright Eyes is way more depressing... :P

Don't worry, if WW3 starts anywhere it'll be in the Holy Land. ^_^

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@rocketraccoonthingy: Scarborough Fair makes you cry? Bright Eyes is way more depressing... :P

Don't worry, if WW3 starts anywhere it'll be in the Holy Land. ^_^

Nah. XD

Yeah I like Bright Eyes too.

Whew! Ikr! Good thing I don't live anywhere near there.

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Females fighting off males when not fertile seems very fair.

Learning the reasons behind there being an Easter Bunny was very cool.

A few friends of mine were interested in wiccan things growing up but I never partook in anything or followed through on my curiosity back then. Probably because my parents and siblings would lose their shit. It's great coming across information I'd never imagine there being, like in an animal blog posted to a comicbook website.

I miss you, Imp.