(Updated: March 16, 2022)
Ostara holds special significance to us at Half Hectare Homestead for multiple reasons. Being that it is the celebration of Spring Equinox, we greatly enjoy marking the changes of Nature at this time. It is the time to sow new seeds. The time to experience regrowth from the dormant state of Winter. And it is the time to welcome all of the new life joining Nature’s cycle.
Cristophe and I were also married on March 21st, 2016. That date wasn’t exactly Ostara that year, but was close enough for us. Plus, it landed our Handfasting ceremony, which we hosted on the same date of the following year, right on Ostara. It was and still is a great time of year to celebrate our shared growth in love and all of the new beginnings in our life journey we embark on together.
The date Ostara (Spring/Vernal Equinox) is usually celebrated on varies from year to year. It falls around March 20th and March 21st in the Northern Hemisphere. For the Southern Hemisphere, it falls around September 22nd and September 23rd. It marks one of the two times in the year (Mabon [Fall Equinox] is the other) when there are equal hours of day and night. It is the midpoint between the longest night on Yule (Winter Solstice) and the longest day on Midsummer (Summer Solstice).
The temperatures in upstate New York, USA are still too cold for most annuals (plants that grow for one season). The average last frost date of where we are in New York isn’t until the end of May. (Click here to find your local areas average first and last frost dates.) So, the days around Ostara mark the perfect time for us to begin our seedling starts growing indoors. Getting them started now will give these plants time to grow strong before exposing them to outside conditions. It will also not chance them being exposed to a freeze. Of course, we also plan to establish plenty more perennials (plants that grow for three or more seasons). Especially ones that are native to this area. They can survive all the weather patterns of this climate and support the local wildlife.
Many cultures in different parts of the world have been marking and celebrating Spring Equinox for thousands of years. Mayans celebrate “The Return of the Sun Serpent” on this day by viewing the afternoon sunlight that creates shadows resembling a snake moving down the stairs of the Pyramid Kukulkan at the ruins of Chichen Itza in Mexico. The Persian festival of No Ruz, meaning “new day”, also happens at this time of year as a celebration of hope and renewal. And, many people in Japan celebrate Spring Equinox as a national holiday called Shunbun no Hi, which to some involves tending to the graves of their ancestors.
Here at HHH, we call our Springtime celebration after the Goddess Ostara. She was revered by Ancient Germanic Pagans at this time of year for returning fertility to the Earth and bringing about the new planting season. Cristophe and I honor our shared Germanic heritage by dedicating our Spring Equinox Holy Day practices to Ostara.
Legends of Resurrection
The followers of the Goddess Cybele in ancient Rome celebrated this time of year as the resurrection of one of her consorts, Attis, who had been born of a virgin birth. The Roman God Mithras (originally a Persian God) is also said through ancient legends to have been born at Winter Solstice, been resurrected in Spring, and helped his followers after death to ascend to the realm of light. Just more examples of ancient stories following the same seasonal timeline of miraculous events that was later adopted and converted by Christianity.
Eggs and Hares
There are multiple ideas about the source of springtime celebrations being associated with decorated eggs and hares. One is simply rooted in the symbolism of eggs and hares representing Nature’s fertility. Another is that ancient peoples would find eggs inside old hare holes and think that hares reproduce by laying eggs. In truth though, the eggs were there because certain species of birds nest in abandoned hare dens.
A third springtime legend linking birds, eggs, and hares together is one of the Saxon Goddess Eostre. She is considered to be the Saxon version of the Germanic Goddess Ostara. As the legend goes, Eostre found a wounded bird late in Winter. She then turned it into a hare to save its life. The transformation however was not a complete one, so the hare retained its ability to lay eggs. It would then decorate these eggs and leave them as gifts for Eostre.
We take this time to celebrate our connections to Life. The way it flows through our bodies and empowers us. The way it can be shared and ignite a spark within others. As Life returns to the Nature around us, it also resurfaces within us to drive us towards our own natural growth. Life is ever changing, as we ourselves are ever changing. Let us listen to Nature’s returning beats and dance with them as we travel along our chosen paths. Be Blessed.