Calling the Easter Bunny :: A Louisiana Plantation Tradition

In our house, and even dating as far back as my great-GREAT-grandparents’ house, my family has upheld an Easter tradition of “calling” the Easter Bunny. I’m not talking about an app or a fake phone number used to keep the kids in check. No, this is a very simple, yet very exciting custom that we do in the Lenten weeks leading up to Easter and serves as a great reward, some family bonding, and even just a magical experience of innocent youth.

The tradition of calling the Easter Bunny stems from an old river parish sugar cane family plantation, Welham Plantation. Both sets of my great-grandparents on my mother’s side were born and raised on the plantation in St. James Parish where the primary language spoken was French. Every year during Easter, the children would sing a song in French that called for the Easter bunny to come lay treats in their nest. After a few rounds of the song, the children would scramble around the plantation grounds to see where the bunny would lay eggs/treats.

Welham Plantation

From generation to generation, this Easter tradition has lasted and spread through branches of our family tree.

Both sets of great-grandparents brought it with them when starting their own families off the plantation. Over the years, some generations have changed the song from French to English, others continue to sing the original French version. And, some have even cut out parts of the song entirely and even sing just a short phrase. But, families, like my own, are still keeping the custom alive today.

In my house, I’ve taught my children the song {in French}, and every Easter season, occasionally throughout those several weeks, we get together on the couch and sing the phrase, “Lapin Lapin dans mon nid!” This roughly translates to “Rabbit, Rabbit, come lay in my nest” (historical colloquialisms and slight changes over time have altered an exact translation, but it’s the general idea). The children sing a few rounds of the song before my husband or I pretend to jump up or perk our ears up – as if we heard something startling somewhere in the house. The innocent curiosity and the excitement in my kids’ reactions is priceless. They eagerly scatter all around the house to find a small helping of treats the Easter bunny left behind while we were singing the song – sometimes tucked away in a corner of someone’s bedroom, behind a door, or in the backyard.

What I love most about this tradition though, is its longevity. Through five generations and, many, MANY individual families later, this Louisiana French custom, that we’re mostly certain actually originated on the plantation, has continued to be a presence in each of our families’ Easter holidays. My great-great-grandparents created something that has lasted through time and serves as not only wonderful memories but also, a familiar link to former generations. Those who are no longer with us are always remembered through these special customs that they have created and/or fostered through family fun. Still, to this day, my entire extended family (4 generations’ worth) gets together every Easter Sunday to celebrate the holiday in St. James Parish. And, before the swarm of all the little ones (33 great-great-great-grandchildren) can run into the fields to hunt for Easter eggs, we sing the age-old French song to call for the Easter Bunny to “come lay in our nest.”

What Easter traditions do you have?

Jennifer Gonzales
Wife to my high school sweetheart, Ross, and mother to 4 children: Trip, Conner, McKenzie, and Piper, I am a born and raised Southern Louisiana Lady. I am a graduate of Mt. Carmel Academy, received my Bachelor’s in English with a concentration in Secondary Ed. from LSU followed by my Master’s of Education from UNO, and for the past 11 years, I have been outwitting high school boys as an English teacher at Holy Cross School. When I’m not grading papers, driving to baseball practices, or making grocery runs, I can be found cheering on my LSU Tigers, cutting up with my girlfriends, and crafting (I love a good project!). I’m all about sippin’ some wine during the sunset while the kiddos play in the yard and the hubby works the grill. I’m living my best mommy life these days and am always happy to share the journey with others!

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