Ostara, a Celebration of the Arrival of Spring
I didn’t grow up celebrating Ostara, or any of the other old nature holidays. It is something that grew on us ever since we started homeschooling in 2010. We realized that following and celebrating the seasons was a great fit for our lifestyle and our family.
The celebration of Ostara is an old Pagan tradition. There are eight Pagan holidays called sabbats and esbats (Samhain, Yule, Imbolc, Ostara, Beltane, Litha, Lammas, Mabon) and together they make up the Wheel of the Year.
The Story of Ostara, the Goddess of Spring
Ostara arrives late one year and finds a bird with its wings frozen. He is dying. She is able to save the bird’s life but can’t save his wings. So she turns him into a snow hare and names him Lepus. She gifts him with the ability to lay eggs in all the colors of the rainbow. They spend their days together. One day, Ostara gets very upset with Lepus and out of uncontrolled anger, she flings him into the sky. He becomes the constellation Lepus positioned just under Orion, the Hunter. Feeling remorseful about what she has done, she grants Lepus to come down to Earth once a year during the celebration of Ostara where he shares his rainbow colored eggs with the world.
5 Facts About the Spring Equinox
On the evening of March 20th, the Spring Equinox starts happening. If you are not familiar with the term and concept of the Spring Equinox, here are five basic facts.
- An equinox happens twice a year around the 20th of March and the 20th of September no matter where you are on earth. It occurs when the Earth’s axis is centered with the Sun, and the sun is on the same plane as the Earth’s equator. If you are in the Northern hemisphere you will experience the Spring Equinox in March. If you are on the Southern hemisphere, you will experience the Autumn Equinox in September. The Autumn Equinox is called Mabon. In September it is the other way around. In the Northern hemisphere, you will experience the Autumn Equinox while in the Southern hemisphere you will experience the Spring Equinox.
- The meaning of the word equinox is from the Latin words for equal and night since night and day have about the same length. But the day is actually a bit longer.
- The Spring Equinox is also called the “vernal equinox” with vernal coming from the Latin word meaning spring.
- According to the rules of the calendar, the first day of spring almost always occurs on March 20th or 21st.
- This year the Spring Equinox will start at 21:58 Universal Coordinated Time on Wednesday, March 20th, 2019. You can find your local time here.
10 Fun Activities to do With Your Kids
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- Dye eggs! It is always a fun activity. Try dyeing them with natural food colorings. Using beets will color your eggs pink/red. Onion peel will color your eggs orange. Turmeric will color your egg yellow. Hibiscus will color your egg dark green. Purple cabbage will color your egg sea blue. Kids love to see the magic!
- Make Ostara Baskets together. It is great to keep your eggs or other treats in. I like to make my kid large peg gnomes which is great for imaginary play and it is sustainable.
- Hide eggs and do an Ostara Egg hunt. In the Netherlands, the tradition is to hide chocolate eggs. In Colorado, it can already feel really sunny and warm which means the chocolate eggs would melt before they’re all found. A couple of years ago I invested in plastic fillable eggs. And even though I am not a fan of using plastic, I have used these for the past few years. I fill them (or not) and the kids love searching for them.
- Go outside and look at all the baby animals and blossoms. All the blossoms, the baby animals, and everything else in nature starts to bloom again. Don’t forget about the grass that slowly turns green. In wintertime everything seems like it has died, and we always wonder if the trees will grow leaves again. When spring arrives, we are yet again surprised by the wonders of nature.
- Grow grass in pots. Start preparing your garden by planting seeds inside, and watch them grow. The kids and I went to the garden store and together we picked out seeds for the vegetables we wanted to grow this year. They can’t wait to start. Wait until the last frost takes place before transferring them outside. It always upsets my kids when their “babies” die. Even though it happens, and it gives good conversation, I do like to prevent it.
- Decorate your house for spring.
- Tell them the myths and celebrations that are customary for your tradition. Read stories about Ostara and Lepus such as Rupert’s Tales (we love this book), Easter, Passover, Demeter & Persephone, and other Spring themes. Circle Round, Celebrating the Great Mother, and Pooka Pages are great resources for teaching young children about the Sabbats.
- Talk about new beginnings. What does it mean to them, and do they have something they would like to start with?
- Color this giant egg from Mr. Printable to get in the mood of eggs and bunnies. I always like to participate as well, and it takes us days to finish. We leave it up in our house on a wall until Easter time.
- Honor the birds. Clean the hair out of your brush and leave them outside for the birds to build their nests. Get a field guide on birds, talk about the birds, and see which ones you can spot.
Do you have any traditions? Let us know in the comments how you celebrate spring. I wish you all a wonderful spring season!
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