Ostara is the spring equinox, a time when there are equal parts of day and night. The equinox takes place every year around March 20-22, and this year’s happened at 1:32pm on March 20 (according to the U.S. Naval Observatory).
Those familiar with Christian practices usually note the similarity of the name Ostara to Easter. This is not a mistake or a happenstance, as the holiday of Ostara was incorporated into the Christian religion to coincide with their resurrection story on Easter. St. Patrick has his saint day near to Easter/Ostara, on March 17, which most everyone knows as the infamous St. Patrick’s Day.
Ostara is the name of a German virgin fertility goddess, while the Teutons worshipped the goddess Eostre, or Easter, during Ostara. Another deity bears a similar name as well, Astarte, in the Greek/Roman tradition, and her festival was near the same time as Ostara. Other deities associated with this holiday are usually those gods who come back from the underworld in some manner: Odin, Attis, Osiris, Dagda, Mithras, Orpheus, Hera, and Persephone. In England the goddess honored is the Green Goddess. The spring equinox is the first day of spring in the northern hemisphere, and is a fertility holiday. Popular representations during this holiday include eggs and rabbits, both symbols of fertility, and lambs, which were sacred to almost every virgin goddess throughout Europe and the Mediterranean. Lilies are also connected with this holiday, although in the old Christian tradition the lily is the symbol of death and not a symbol of life as it was for the Greeks and Romans.
Some ways to celebrate the holiday of Ostara include:
- Dying eggs–always a big favorite
- Hanging plastic Easter eggs
- Making a cascarone—Cascarones are hollowed out eggs which are then painted, filled, and sealed with tape. Traditional fillings for cascarones are lavender, sage, perfume, and confetti.
- Participate in an Easter Egg Hunt
- Make egg nog
- Make hot cross buns, a traditional spring roll
- Meditation on what the holiday means to you
- Plant an herb garden
- Go outside and enjoy the warm weather (well, ok, as long as it is actually warm…but it was warm where I live, so that’s how I celebrated Ostara!)