Ostara is the celebration of life, fertility & harvest. It is a celebration of the spring equinox held on March 21st (may also be held 9th - 22nd of March). It is recognizing that from here the weather & environment is to become less hostile & more forgiving. Whilst this applies specifically to regions where March is in winter, more specifically the north, Ostara is a celebration globally. Today, whilst still celebrated by many cultures, many religions and cultures have their own versions of this celebration, adapting and changing it to fit their own beliefs. Popular examples are Easter, Passover, Purim, Holi & Mohalla. Ostara is seen throughout many modern popular religions. In Norse culture, we still celebrate it today in one way or another. Ostara is 1 of 8 seasonal celebrations shown on the below Wheel of the Year.
Ēostre is the Germanic goddess tied in with Ostara, and typically any sacrifice made during this time is in her honour. Sometimes are female goddesses are linked in with Ēostre particularly those also tied in with fertility i.e. Freyja. You may note the similarities between 'Easter' and 'Ēostre'. Regardless of your beliefs, you've heard of 'Easter Eggs' or 'Easter Bunnies'. The egg is an obvious sign of fertility and life and was (and still is) a common symbol during Ostara. The rabbit is a token animal known to breed quickly & often, hence why these 2 symbols have been adapted into the Christian holiday Easter.
Ostara is celebrated in many different ways today, from the planting of seeds to the eating of specific foods. Some common traditional foods eaten during Ostara are; leafy green vegetables, dairy foods, Nuts such as Pumpkin, sunflower and pine, flower dishes and sprouts. Celebrants will decorate their homes, stores, towns etc. with specific herbs & flowers to partake in Ostara. Daffodil, Jonquils, Woodruff, Violet, Gorse, Olive, Peony, Iris, Narcissus and all basically any common spring flower. A lot of the ingredients or flowers involved are intended to clear away toxins left behind from the winter. Some are known to fast completely as a way to get rid of toxins in the body. Even prior to the Christianisation of the world, egg-related games such as egg hunts, egg painting, egg races were all very common activities. Much of what is available in the modern commercialized Christian Easter, has been derived without little change from the Pagan celebration Ostara.
The oldest scripture we have that refers to Ostara or Ēostre is by a monk by the name of Venerable Bede. Whilst it is important to note that history is sometimes lost in translation, particular when passed through to completely other cultures or religions, we can date back to at least as early as 673-735AD.
How do you celebrate this time of year?
Written by: Jax Ryan