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Ostara is celebrated with gifts of decorated eggs, a symbol of new Spring life

Ostara, also known as The Vernal Equinox, Lady Day, Earrach, Alban Eilir, Festival of Trees, and Gŵyl Ganol y Gwanwyn is a seasonal Pagan and Neo-Pagan festival which is celebrated as one of the eight holidays on the The Wheel of the Year.

In the Northern Hemisphere it is held on March 19 - March 23 (during the Spring Equinox) when the Sun is at 0° Aries.

In the Southern Hemisphere it is held on September 19 - September 23 (during the Spring Equinox) when the Sun is at 0° Libra.

An early 20th century German postcard depicting the tradition image of a rabbit painting an Easter egg

Ostara derives its name from the Germanic goddess Eostre, a fertility deity whose name is reflected in the modern terms estrus and estrogen. It is celebrated at the Spring Equinox, a transitional moment when light and dark are juxtaposed in balance, and light is on the verge of overcoming darkness. The festival of Ostara has long been associated with rabbits and eggs, especially coloured or decorated eggs, and although it is not known whether rabbits and eggs were associated with the historical goddess Eostre, there is some sense to the idea, due to the timing of Ostara with respect to the nesting of birds and the birthing of young hares in Europe.

With the coming of Christianity to Europe, the seasonal festival of Ostara was conjoined with the annual services commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, which traditionally falls near to the time of the Jewish festival of Pesach or Passover, a lunar festival whose timing is also tied to the solar Vernal Equinox. This unlikely pairing of Pagan totemic animal symbolism, Jewish feast-day, and Christian theology eventually resulted in a lovely festival in which the Easter Bunny hides decorated eggs for Christian children to find amidst the grasses and flowers of spring.

In contemporary Neo-Paganism, Ostara retains some older imagery; the Goddess is seen as becoming fertile during this time, and maturing sexually.


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