What is Ostara? Celebrating the Return of the Light
Ostara is celebrated on either March 20 or 21 (the vernal equinox), depending on the calculations of when it takes place. The roots of Ostara can be traced back to the pagan traditions of the early Germanic people. It is believed that Ostara was initially celebrated as the festival of Eostre, the goddess of Spring. The arrival of Spring and the return of the sun signaled the festival, which was a time of celebration and rebirth. The name of the festival was named after the goddess Eostre, who gave her name to the Christian holiday of Easter. The modern incarnation of Ostara is an attempt to revive the pagan traditions surrounding this time of year, which celebrates with food and drink.
German author and folklorist, Jacob Grimm, used comparative data to recreate a hypothetical continental Germanic goddess in his 1835 book, Deutsche Mythologie, whose name would have survived in the Old High German word for Easter, Ostara. According to Grimm, the Old High German adverb “ôstar” and the Old Norse word “austr” (*áustr) both “convey movement toward the rising sun.” It’s also possible that Anglo-Saxon “astor” and Gothic “áustr” do the same. Grimm claims that the goddess’ cult may have been centered upon an Old Norse version, Austra, or that it may have already vanished by the time of Christianization. He links these names to the same Latin term “auster.”
The idea to revive Ostara as a celebration of Spring was inspired by ancient pagan traditions and festivals such as Eostre. A Wiccan High Priest named Frank B. Caroll introduced the “Ostara” festival into the Neo-Pagan movement in the late 1970s after learning about the celebration from his friend Aidan Kelly from the Welsh Traditionalists community close to Philadelphia. Mr. Carroll started celebrating at his Church of All Worlds Coven called “White Mare,” which later became a separate denomination known as the Church of Aphrodite.
Ostara is celebrated throughout Europe and America, with differing traditions in different regions. In some regions, the custom is to make nests decorated with brightly colored eggs and flowers that symbolize rebirth and fertility during the coming months of spring weather.
The symbols and rituals associated with Ostara are meant to celebrate springtime’s coming and nature’s rebirth. Some of the most common symbols associated with Ostara include eggs, rabbits, and flowers.
Eggs are a common symbol of Ostara because they represent new life. They can be dyed in bright colors to signify the coming of Spring, and often contain hidden treats or messages inside.
Rabbits are also a common symbol of Ostara because they are linked to new beginnings and fertility. In some traditions, it is believed that if a rabbit is seen during Ostara, it will bring good luck. Hares and rabbits are frequently shown in Easter artwork throughout Northern Europe. Adolf Holtzmann was the first author to link the goddess Eostre and hares in his book Deutsche Mythologie. “The Easter Hare seems unintelligible to me,” remarked Holtzmann of the custom. “Yet, the hare was undoubtedly the sacred animal of Ostara, just as there is a hare on the statue of Abnoba.”
Flowers are also associated with Ostara as they represent the blooming of springtime. Planting flower seeds is a good way to celebrate Ostara as well as: spring cleaning, a bonfire to celebrate the return of the light, or host a Spring feast with family and friends with lots of fruits and fresh vegetable dishes.