Anniversary: What’s Up, Doc? Bugs Bunny Turns 70!

TUESDAY, JULY 27: “Eh … what’s up, Doc?” Recall all of those famous catchphrases as the infamous bunny named Bugs celebrates his 70th birthday! This week in 1940 the first official Bugs Bunny—in his full form—debuted in a cartoon called “A Wild Hare.” Bugs even used his famous aforementioned catchphrase in his first cartoon! (Wikipedia has details.) Although the bunny had previously appeared in various cartoons a few years prior, it was in 1940 that he came out of his rabbit hole, voiced his opinions and began revealing his ever-so-mischievous personality.

The famous bunny began his life as a wild hare—just as the original cartoon title suggests—but slowly began maturing and settling down. In fact, his name was originally displayed in quotes, as in “Bugs” Bunny, since the word “bugs” was often used as a nickname for people who were crazy or loopy. Although he was full of mischief, Bugs was rarely malicious; in all but one or two cases, the bunny acted against villains only in self-defense. Years later, this Warner Bros. Studios mascot earned a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. (Play Bugs Bunny games and much more on this Looney Tunes website.)

Rabbits have played an important role in various cultures and religions long before Bugs Bunny made his impact on America, though. Ancient pagans viewed rabbits as symbols of spring fertility, and the rabbit was central to their elaborate spring festival. Even the three Abrahamic religions have ties with rabbits, although the ties are also linked with controversy. In both the Bible and Quran, the Lord instructed Moses and Aaron not to eat animals that both chewed cud (cud is food that had been previously and partially digested) and did not have a split hoof, completely divided. As stated, these animals included the camel, the rock badger and the hare, or rabbit. (Read various biblical translations here.) Some commentators say the Bible simply is inaccurate here—rabbits do not chew cud. Other scholars argue that Moses looked at the hare and assumed it chewed cud, based on its peculiar chewing habits.

(By ReadTheSpirit columnist Stephanie Fenton)

(NOTE: To see more short articles about upcoming holidays, festivals and anniversaries, click the “RTS Magazines” tab at the top of this page and select “Religious Holidays.”)

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