While Christians are getting ready to celebrate Easter, pagans are preparing to observe Ostara, which marks the changing of the seasons from the dark winter to the light spring. Ostara annually falls on the date of the spring equinox, March 20 this year, and it is one of the eight holidays, known as sabbats, on the modern pagan calendar.
More widely known pagan celebrations include October’s Samhain and December’s Yule, which have elements that have been translated into our modern-day observances of Halloween and Christmas, respectively. Many pagans dedicate the Ostara celebration to the Anglo-Saxon and Germanic goddess of fertility, Ēostre, aka Ostara. The goddess is represented by gifts and images associated with the new light of birth, such as eggs, rabbits and sweets, making the observance similar on the surface to the Christian Easter, according to Beliefnet.
So popular were these symbols that Christians adopted them for their Easter celebrations in an attempt to sway pagans over to their monotheistic religion. While Ostara is the day that symbolizes the time of the year when more light creeps into our daily lives, it is believed by pagans to be the day when lightness and darkness are equal, making it a time to celebrate balance.
Food plays an important role in the observance of Ostara. The fresh vegetables beginning to become more widely available at this time of year are frequently eaten, while some witches are known to fast on the holiday, to clear the toxins built up in their bodies over the cold winter months.
— The Asatru Community (@AsatruCommunity) March 14, 2016
Referring to the rebirth associated with Ostara, paganism expert Patti Wigington wrote: “Take some time to celebrate the new life that surrounds you in nature: Walk in [a] park, lay in the grass, hike through a forest. As you do so, observe all the new things beginning around you — plants, flowers, insects, birds.”