Ostara: Spring is Here!
Today, Sunday, March 20th, we have entered the first day of spring! This is determined by the time the Sun passes the equator line, after which the Northern Hemisphere begins to more and more so face the Sun. This is how the weather warms up and days get longer. If you are in the Southern Hemisphere, you are experiencing the opposite as March 20th marks the autumn equinox!
The exact moment the sun passes the equator took place at 11:33 AM. At this time, we may celebrate because spring has arrived!
Celebration of Spring Equinox
Pagan peoples have been celebrating March Equinox for a long time, as do many cultures. Spring Equinox is a time of renewed life, rebirth, spring. Spring is a time of year that is held in high regard around the world for the fruits it may bring in terms of opportunity. The crops are sowed, the earth begins to open up and bloom again, animals come out of hibernating, people are out and about once more. The whole world wakes up at this time, and it’s a good reason to celebrate.
Ostara is the Pagan version of the Spring Equinox, and historically they have gone by their own ways of celebrating.
The name Ostara comes from the name Eostre, the Anglo-Saxon god representing spring and new beginnings. This season of the year reflects those same themes and Wicca historically has interesting symbols to represent this time.
Rabbits and hares as a representation date back to medieval times during which they also represented fertility. March is mating season for hare and at this time, you can see hares about all day and all month.
The Saxons held a feast for Eostre on the full moon following the equinox. This day often aligns with Christian Easter. A popular legend of the Saxons goes that Eostre found a dying bird in the cold and she transformed it into a hare in an effort to save it. The transformation was complete but this new creature could still lay eggs like a bird and they would decorate the eggs as a gift to Eostre for saving it. This may be the early roots of our Easter celebrations in the West to this day.
Other spring celebrations
This time of the year has historically been celebrated by many cultures who did not call the holiday the same thing or celebrate in the same way.
The Mayans celebrated spring equinox in a festival called The Return of the Sun Serpent. The reason they called it as such is because when the sun set on the day of equinox, the pyramid El Castillo had a shadow cast on its' face from the sun in the staircase and it looked like a large snake slithering down the side of the pyramid. Crowds would gather to watch as the shadow climbed down the length until it merged with a serpent sculpture that livd at the base of the pyramid. Scholars speculate whether the Mayans designed this on purpose.
India celebrates Spring with a Festival of Colors called Holi. People light bonfires to sing, dance, and throw pigment powder (gulal) around. By the end of the festival, everyone is stained with the bright colors and Spring has begun.
How can we observe the onset of Spring today?
Feast and a general sense of merriment are always par for the course of celebrating! Spring Equinox is a time to sow your seeds, whether literal or figurative. Set your intentions for the new season, begin working on projects you want to see fruiting in the fall. Connect with the earth as it begins to warm up and prepare yourself for the liveliness of summer.
Spring is a time of mindfulness, awakening, and fresh beginnings. Set your goals for the season and take active steps to work towards them.