The Easter Bunny has its origins in pre-Christian lore. The "hare" is the true Easter beast, not the rabbit. The goddess, Eostre, was worshipped by the Anglo-Saxons through her earthly symbol, the hare. Hares were sacrificed to her. The hare was an emblem of fertility, renewal, and return of spring to the heathen.
The Bunny, as an Easter symbol, seems to have its origins in Germany, where it was first mentioned in German writings in the 1500's. The first edible Easter bunnies were made in Germany during the early 1800's and were made of pastry and sugar.
The Easter Bunny was introduced to America by the German settlers who arrived in the Pennsylvania Dutch country during the 1700's. The arrival of the "Oschter Haws" was considered childhood's greatest pleasure next to a visit from Christ-Kindel on Christmas Eve. The children believed that if they were good, the "Oschter Haws" would lay a nest of colored eggs.
The children would build their nest in a secluded place in the home, the barn, or in the garden. Boys would use their caps and girls their bonnets to make the nests. The use of elaborate Easter baskets would come later as the tradition of the Easter Bunny spread throughout the country.