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The Festival of Ostara

Ostara Date Celebrated
Vernal Equinox (around 21st March)

Alternate Names
Eostre's Day, Celtic "Bird Festival," Alban Eilir or Alban Eiler (Light of the Earth)

Christian Equivalent
Lady Day or the Annunciation (25th March), Easter (movable date)

Place in the Natural Cycle

Ostara is the solar festival that marks the transition from the dark to the light half of the year: day and night are of equal length. On this day, the sun rises due east and sets due west. The spring quarter of the year runs from Imbolc to Beltane, so Ostara marks the mid-point of spring. By Ostara, life is returning to the land in noticeable ways, and thus nature demonstrates the festival's associations with revival and the ascendancy of light.

More About Ostara

Ostara is a celebration of conception, regeneration and the triumph of light over darkness. In terms of the Goddess cycle, it is the time when the Maiden of Imbolc conceives the child that will be born at Yule. The Christian Church celebrates both aspects of Ostara as the day of the Annunciation (when Mary conceives Christ) and the day of the Resurrection (when Christ returns triumphant from the darkness of death). The latter, Easter, is marked in the Western Christian Church on the first Sunday after the Paschal (Passover) moon (usually the full moon that occurs on or next after the vernal equinox, taken as March 21).

Ostara is a Germanic goddess of spring and fertility, and the name of her Anglo-Saxon equivalent, Eostre, was used to derive the term Easter by the Venerable Bede in the 8th century. Eostre is a lunar goddess, and her symbols include the egg and the rabbit, both of which are obvious fertility symbols. In addition, the egg represents the Cosmic Egg of Creation and the rabbit is symbolic of the moon (it used to be thought that an image of a hare could be seen in the full moon). Eostre's festival was held on the first full moon on or next after the vernal equinox, so this fertility goddess lends her festival, her symbols and her name to the Christian celebration of the Resurrection.

Just as Ostara is a time to sow the seed that will be harvested later in the year, it is also a time to act on new ideas and begin ventures that will grow as the year proceeds. It is the point when, conceptually at least, the sun enters the sign of Aries and the astrological cycle begins again. Ostara is a time for renewal, when we should reaffirm our commitment to those things that are important to us and revitalize our journey towards our goals.

The Mystical Calendar
The Eight Festivals:     Yule   -   Imbolc   -   Ostara   -   Beltane   -   Litha   -   Lughnasadh   -   Mabon   -   Samhain