From: T.M. Schoewe
The following is a bit from memory and the rest is from research! Going back to o/a 1925 in Plainview, Mn. we recall our father boiling a dozen eggs on the Saturday before Easter. It was a sort of secret operation. He wrote names with crayon on the egg shells and put red, yellow and brown onion peels in the kettle with the eggs to dye them. Early the next morning we were sent into the yard to find the eggs that the Easter rabbit had laid with our name on it. It was a joyous activity!
Since those early days we have learned that the story of the Easter rabbit that lays eggs is much, much older than our myth of Santa Claus who comes down chimneys. The rabbit called Easter is older than any other childhood tradition. The rabbit was originally a pagan symbol and like the name Easter has been handed down from Teutonic(German) antiquity. Easter gets its name from ‘Eostre’ or ‘Ostara’, the Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring. Many Easter observances stem directly from the pagan feast of Eostre. It was the major springtime festival. The pagan Easter inevitably became mixed with the festival of the Christian year falling in spring. The rabbit is the pagan emblem for fertility and was a popular pet among children. When eggs, forbidden during Lent, were brought to the table on Easter it was a natural conclusion that they had been laid by the Easter rabbit. The eggs were often colored red to symbolize Easter joy. Some church historians trace the Easter egg to paganism where it signified the germinating life of early spring.
Easter is crowded with all sorts of customs. In England men claimed the privilege of lifting every woman from the ground three times upon meeting her on Easter, for which they would receive a kiss or a silver 6 pence (a dime). In Germany men could whip maid servants with switches on Easter and the next day the maids whipped the men. In each case they secured their release through payment with Easter eggs. In Washington D.C. the White House has the Easter egg roll and the green lawn is covered with children looking for eggs as the legend of the Easter Rabbit continues to this day.
P.S. The Easter Rabbit has always been white for centuries.