Ostara – a day from March 19th to 22nd. This year it’s on the 21st.
Also known as Spring Equinox, Eostre, Alban Eilir, and Lady Day.
With grateful thanks to June.
What it means
Ostara is a solar festival, being one of two days in the year when day and night are of equal length. Spring is here, and new life is starting to appear all around us. Days will now lengthen, and light will triumph over the darkness of winter.
Ostara is celebrated around the same time as the Christian festival ofEaster, which takes it’s name from a goddess of the spring and fertility – Eostre. Offerings of eggs and small cakes were made to her at the time of the Spring Equinox, and rabbits were sacred to her (she was said to take the form of one sometimes). There is a legend that tells how Eostre found awounded bird in the snow, and wanting to help she transformed him in to a hare so that he could survive the winter. The bird wasn’t completely transformed, and the hare could lay eggs! The hare would decorate these eggs and leave them as a thank you to Eostre.
Eggs were an important part of nutrition for people at this time of year. The food from the previous years harvest was getting low, but it wasn’t warm enough for crops to grow yet. Hence people would forage for wild birds eggs, which has lead to the custom of the Easter/Ostara egg hunts that we still have today.
Ways to celebrate
Ostara is a time for sowing seeds, to ensure that there is a harvest in the autumn.
Take a walk in the countryside or through the woods, and notice the new growth on the trees and plants. See if you can spot any new birds nests in the trees.
Ponds should be full of signs of renewed life, as they’re usually teeming with tadpoles now.
Bring some beautiful daffodils in to the house to signify the arrival of spring.
Leave a sweet offering outside. Honey, chocolate or sweets for instance.
And, of course, an egg hunt! Or an egg and spoon race!
Things to make and do
Sow some seeds, maybe in an egg shell. You could decorate the eggshell with a face, and grow cress inside as the hair. Do this with the egg lengthways to produce a hedgehog.
Make chocolate birds nests. Use cornflakes, rice snaps etc, coated in chocolate and placed in to cake papers in a nest shape. Put some edible eggs inside, either shop-bought or made from marzipan, fondant icing etc.
Things to Eat
A celebratory meal should include fresh new shoots (bean sprouts, leafy
greens), fruits, seeds, and boiled eggs:
Take a raw egg outside just before the moment of the Equinox, and folklore says you should be able to balance it on it’s wider end, unsupported. This is supposed to be due to gravity being balanced at this moment, but scientists have declared the practise as superstition. Why not just try it for the fun of it :o)