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Ostara: Celebrating Spring and New Life

Ostara 2024 is March 19-21


What is Ostara?



Ostara, named for the Goddess of spring and dawn, is a pagan holiday that celebrates the start of spring and awakening of nature. It is one of the major eight Sabbats in the Wheel of the Year and marks the beginning of Spring in the Northern Hemisphere. On Ostara, day and night are of equal length and everyday going forward sees the days become longer and the nights shorter.

Now is the time of rebirth and renewal, it is the time to celebrate the return of light, growth of new life, and renewal of hope. It is also a time when we can connect with the natural world, celebrate the changing of seasons, and embrace the ever present cycles of life.


Who is Ostara?



Ostara (also known as Eostre or Eastre) is the Germanic Goddess of spring and dawn. Mentioned only once in scholarly writings of the period - Bede the monk wrote that during Eostremonath (old Anglo-Saxon for April) the pagan Anglo-Saxons held festivals in her honor. She is also mentioned in numerous Germanic inscriptions, and the modern holiday Easter - is named for her.

Material on her is so scare however, some scholars speculate that she was not a goddess at all, but an invention of Bede. It is unlikely though, that someone as Pagan-having as Bede would have taken the time and energy in inventing a goddess. Some scholars decided, rather randomly and on scant information, that Ostara is a form of Freya while others believe she is in fact Iduna, or Walburga. Because of this, her true origins remain a mystery to this day.


Celebrations and Traditions



Some simple, yet powerful ways to celebrate Ostara are:


  1. Decorate your home with spring-themed items like flowers, eggs, and pastel-colors.

  2. Plant seeds and start a garden

  3. Picnic with friends and family

  4. Bake spring-themed treats such as lavender lemon shortbread (Find a recipe at the end!)

  5. Decorate eggs

  6. Take a nature walk



Symbols of Ostara





Symbols associated with Ostara include: the colors green, yellow, white and lavender, eggs, rabbits, chicks, and flowers. These symbols are representative of fertility, renewal, and rebirth - all of which are key themes of Ostara. Since Ostara is the time of year when life awakes, there are many herbs and flowers associated and symbolic of the holiday too. The most common plants symbolic of the spring equinox include:

  • Daffodils and Tulips - the return of spring and new growth

  • Primroses - youth and new beginnings

  • Pussy Willows - fertility and growth

  • Forsythia - transformation and change

  • Shamrocks - luck and good fortune

  • Lilacs - rebirth and new beginnings

  • Mint - abundance and prosperity

  • Rosemary - remembrance and fidelity

  • Dandelions - Symbolic of wishes and dreams coming true





Legend of the Hare


The hare was known as the messenger of Ostara and is the symbol of the awakening of life. It appears from a very old and ancient, yet fairly unknown tradition, that the hare was originally a bird. According to legend, the goddess found her winged messenger unsuitable to endure all toils and climates, and transformed the creature into a quick-footed animal with long ears, warm furry coat, and no tail to speak of. The hare was ready and more than able to summon belated spring from wherever she may be, and guide Ostara safely, even among the icebergs of the frozen north. So going forward the hare was then known as the friend and messenger of the spring goddess; and in memory of its previous form lays brightly colored eggs once a year at Easter to symbolize the awakening of the earth and bringing of new life.



Lemon Lavender Shortbread



Ingredients:


  • 1 cup salted butter

  • ¾ cup powdered sugar

  • 2 cups flour

  • ¼ teaspoon salt

  • zest of 3 lemons

  • 2 tablespoon dried lavender


Steps:

  1. Combine sugar, flour, and salt into a large bowl. Mix until combined.

  2. Dice up cold butter. Using a pastry cutter, cut in your butter until butter and flour is the size of oats and resembles wet sand.

  3. Add lemon zest and dried lavender. Mix with hands and start to kneed dough together. Your dough should be a crumbly dry texture. Keep kneading and working until dough is combined.

    1. If having difficulty, use a stand mixer on low speed to combine.

  4. On a heavily floured surface roll out your dough using a rolling pin, until your dough is about ½ inch thick.

  5. Using a small biscuit cutter (or cookie cutter) cut out your cookies and transfer them to a baking sheet (with parchment paper on it). Re-knead your scraps together and repeat until all your dough is used.

  6. Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit and let cookies rest in the freezer for at least 15 minutes

  7. Bake for 12 minutes

  8. Let cool before eating!








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