I probably should have written this article around Easter time because it is more befitting considering Ostara is a festival to celebrate the spring equinox, which is celebrated around the 19 – 22 of March. Ostara is a neopagan holiday but does have roots in an earlier period of time.
Our original sources for this celebration was chronicled by the monk historian Bede 725 A.D. in the De Temporum Ratione. He writes about the Anglo-Saxon Goddess Eostre who celebrated the coming of Spring. The celebration of Eostre would latter evolve into the celebration known as Easter.
Some historians date this festival of Easter to the Teutonic Goddess Ostre or Estre. Other variations of the name for this springtime celebration included Ostern in German and Pascha, which the Greeks adapted from the Hebrew Passover. It is believed that Eostre and Ostara came from the same Germanic root word; meaning east, which is the direction of the rising sun.
Ostara also is known by a few other names such as Lady Day, Egg Day or the druid version called Alban Eiler.
Ostara is the festival for Wiccans and other pagans. It represents the celebration of the marriage of the God and Goddess, Mother Earth and the green man. Some will call Ostara the sacred marriage of the young maiden and the sun god. The young maiden conceives in nine months and then she becomes the great mother. The god and goddess become more and more powerful and this is the birth of Spring. This celebration is all about fertility and new birth. Ostara derived from Eostre or Estrus meaning the egg and the rabbit. And alternative name for Ostara as we said was Lady Day and may also refer to different Goddesses such as Venus and Aphrodite.
All Pagan celebrations at this time of the year center on fertility themes and emphasize nature and growth. The use of eggs at this period of the year again resembles the Christian Easter egg tradition. Pagans will have their own Easter egg hunt, paint eggs (like the orthodox Christian practice) and of course eat lots of eggs. These similarities are striking but the pagan customs precedes the Christian. Easter eggs and egg hunts have very little to do with the resurrection of Jesus Christ. They are throwbacks of the older pagan customs.
Legend has it that the story of the egg hunt originated at time when the old religions were shunned in Europe and Christianity was on the rise. People would still decorate their eggs at the vernal equinox but hide them from view. They would make a game of it and have the children look through gardens and under fences to find to find them on their property. It is said that the heretics would bribe the children to disclose where they found the eggs to accuse the property owners of practicing the “old ways.” However, not much documentation can be found on this subject.
During Ostara, pagans will also eat the fruits of the ground, sprouts, nettles and dandelion greens. Some Wiccans will plant their own home garden and some have spring flowers, “seeds, jasmine or flowery incense, and the gemstone of jasper” on home altars. Later some of the garden produce would be used in Wiccan spells and incantations.
Some Wiccans will also fast at this time of the year to clear away the winter toxins from the body.
Others will choose a couple to play out the role of god and goddess and plant seeds in a communal celebration. Some modern pagans will still practice the old Celtic custom of leaving something sweet outside to appease the fairies so that they will not wreak havoc upon the gift giver’s life.