News From Terre Haute, Indiana

April 2, 2013

LIZ CIANCONE: The mystery of the small animal mascot

Liz Ciancone
Special to the Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — I hope you won’t think I’m picking on small animals, but I’ve been thinking about Easter and the Easter bunny.

Why a bunny? Bunnies don’t lay eggs, birds lay eggs. Why do bunnies deliver the eggs laid by chickens (and maybe ducks and geese and other feathered specimens) and hide them for children to have a fun day hunting for eggs and gobbling the candy contained within? Is it because bunnies hop along at a pretty good rate of speed?

I suppose that given the bunnies’ speed potential, the expectation is that they can hit all the houses in the world in a given night — not unlike Santa’s reindeer making home delivery to millions of children around the world.

It’s interesting that three of our major holidays involve small animals as mascots of a sort. There is the Easter bunny, of course, and Santa’s reindeer make an appearance for Christmas, and Halloween gives us black cats while Thanksgiving makes do with a turkey which gets consumed for the holiday feast.

Still, the Easter bunny would have to hop at a pretty fast pace to make it around the world and over the oceans. Of course, rabbits tend to be prolific and I suppose it is difficult to tell one bunny from another, so it is possible, maybe even probable, to have multiple Easter bunnies.

We do not have any sort of animal to help Uncle Sam celebrate the Fourth of July. I wonder if that’s because we call on animals only on those change-of-season holidays and not on those celebrations devised by mankind to give us an excuse to eat too much or take a day off to just hang out.

I wish I had thought to ask Punxsutawney Phil when I talked with him last week. Groundhog Day is one of those made-up, man-made celebrations and they picked Phil as an emblem of that day.

Just another of life’s mysteries, I guess.

Liz Ciancone is a retired Tribune-Star reporter. Send email to