Today, at exactly 9:57 am PDT (the exact moment of this posting, in fact), marks the beginning of Spring. This is a wonderful time of celebration. In Celtic traditions, this is known as Ostara.
Not to be confused with Ēostre, a Germanic goddess, Ostara is the pagan name for the vernal or spring equinox (for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere). Ostara marks the awakening of the Great Goddess from her winter’s sleep. She has been preparing for this awakening since Imbolc.
This time marks the end of the dreary days of winter, and welcomes the fresh days of spring. It’s a time for embracing the new beginnings, new loves, new lives wished for during yule.
As with all Celtic festivals, there are many traditions associated with Ostara having to do with food. Interestingly, many of these same traditions echo those of Easter. For instance, the tradition of decorating Easter eggs and then hiding them for children to find has origins in the distant past. Eggs are an obvious symbol of life and fertility. Celts decorated them and offered them to the Great Goddess at Ostara to bring blessings of abundance and prosperity. It was also customary to leave offerings of something sweet such as honey or mead.
The tradition of hiding them, however, is a bit less heartwarming. Followers of the pagan religions, including the Celts, were forced to hide their offerings when Christianity became popular and it was considered heretical to follow the Old Ways.
So talk to me. Do you celebrate Ostara? How ’bout the spring equinox? Are you familiar with the ancient traditions which have evolved into modern-day Easter?