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Ostara - The Festival of Spring

Ostara is called the spring festival. It is usually celebrated by pagans during the vernal equinox, which falls between 19th and 22nd March each year.

The celebration symbolizes fertility, new life, and renewal. Although it is celebrated when the night and the day are almost equal, in Ostara we celebrate the increase of light and the awakening of nature. Like Easter, flowers, rabbits, and eggs are strongly associated with this festival.

Ostara or Eostre is believed to be the deity of this festival and is important even today to neopagans. There are theories that the goddess originally comes from the ancient Indo-European deity of dawn, Hausos, or some deity of fertility. But it is probably related to the coming of spring, as mentioned above. From the historical church reference of Bede, we learn that Eostre was the old name of April, Eosturmonata, and based on this belief the feast was associated with the German deity who bears the same name. In 19th century writings, we see that this belief became more popular. The first mention of the German Ostara was made by Jacob Green, a folklorist, in whose work we read the most 'ancient facts' about the goddess.

Another connection of Ostara suggests her etymological connection with the word estrogen as well as the Assyrian deity Ishtar. Green himself also created the association of Ostara with eggs and rabbits, as symbols of fertility.

Despite the debate that still exists today as to whether Bede invented Eostre or not, her popularity did not weaken over the centuries.

A 19th-century fairy tale tells of how the goddess was late to bring the spring one year. As a result, a small bird died and this greatly upset the girl, who found the bird. The deity then transformed the unfortunate creature into a snow hare that was laying coloured eggs. Every year, the goddess told the girl to wait for the snow hare to show up. That way everyone will know when spring has arrived.

Imaginarium Magazine, Issue 12, February-March 2022

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