Peter, Peter, Carrot Eater

There’s actually a bit of a story behind the Easter Bunny being called Peter Cottontail, and while it might not interest you, it does me. Peter Rabbit became a household name with the stories of Beatrix Potter, who named the character after her own pet rabbit Peter Piper.

A few years later, American author Thornton Burgess also wrote about a character named Peter Rabbit, although I think his character might have been white in color.

Burgess claimed that his rabbit was not named directly after Potter’s creation, but rather due to how Peter had become a ubiquitous name for rabbits, no doubt due to Potter’s influence. In one book, The Adventures of Peter Cottontail, Burgess’ Peter Rabbit briefly changes his name to Peter Cottontail, thinking it more interesting. Not that this is entirely free from Potter’s work either, as one of her Peter Rabbit’s siblings was named Cottontail. Burgess’ character actually changes his name back very quickly, and is always called Peter Rabbit in later books, as well as a comic strip Burgess’ illustrator Harrison Cady.

Still, the name Peter Cottontail must have stuck, as Steve Nelson and Jack Rollins used it in their 1950 Easter song “Here Comes Peter Cottontail.” Gene Autry, who had already had huge holiday hits with “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “Here Comes Santa Claus,” sang the Easter number as well.

By the way, Nelson and Rollins also wrote “Frosty the Snowman.” I suppose you could say the name Peter already had an Easter connection due to the disciple, but that’s probably a coincidence. Well, unless Mr. MacGregor owned the Garden of Gethsemane.

This entry was posted in Authors, Beatrix Potter, Christianity, Comics, Easter, Holidays, Music, Mythology, Religion and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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