Ostara (“OH-star-ah”) is celebrated on March 19-20, during the Spring Equinox. “Ostara” is derived from *austrō, a Proto-Germanic word meaning “dawn”, itself a descendant of the Proto-Indo-European root *aus-, meaning “to shine”. The Irish Reconstructionist name of this festival is Meán Earrach (“Middle of Spring”). This Minor Sabbat marks the middle of the Celtic Spring, but is actually the astronomical beginning of spring, manifested by the return of warmth and light of the sun. This is a time for acknowledging the awakening of the seed and also balance, renewal and rebirth in our lives. Light and dark are here in balance. The light is growing stronger, the days grow lighter and the earth grows warmer. It is a time of birth, and of manifestation and fecundity is a major theme for that festival.
Ostara/Ēostre is also the name of the Saxon/Germanic goddess of dawn, rebirth and spring. Her lights are carried by hares and she represents spring fecundity, love and carnal pleasure that lead to fecundity. The egg is also associated with Ostara, as the egg is a symbol of creation and represents the cyclical rebirth of nature, equated with the gods. Reincarnation is represented by the return of the goddess Ēostre awakening from her winter hibernation, signaling the renewal of life. In the old times, eggs were left at the graves of the beloved deceased, as a way of calling for their rebirth and return. During Ostara, the Irish celebrated Aengus Óg, the young god associated with physical love and spring time. During sunrise, the Celtic Druids celebrated the Vernal Equinox on hilltops and centered on growth and the renewal of life. The Gauls feasted during Dius Aratri (“Day of the Plough”).
Neopagans observe Ostara by honoring the spring critters, like rabbits, hares, ducks, chickens, sheep and goats. For me, it is a time for balance and a good occasion for new beginnings and fresh opportunities. Around that time, I think about what I can change in my life and how I can improve myself. I sometimes participate in crafting project like the traditional egg decorating. Many others do an egg hunt, especially for the kids, popularized in the United States by the president Abraham Lincoln and now strongly associated with the Christian Easter.
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