Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Contest Anyone?

Tomorrow is the First Day of Spring, also known as the Spring Equinox, which is celebrated by some as Ostara. In Europe, this festival is also known as vernal equinox, Lady Day, Jack in the Green Day, Alban Eiber, Bacchanalia, and Eostre's Day. Tomorrow is a day of balance, when the 12 hours of sunlight are balanced by 12 hours of darkness. In many religions, this is a time of rebirth for many different deities. In our book, many elements of duality and balance can be found. There also seems to be a lot of "tension" between Paganism and Christianity, so I thought this would be a fantastic time for a contest! This contest's main focal point will be on celebrating the similarities, not the differences, between the two religion's concepts of Spring celebration. Instead of it being Ostara vs. Easter. let's look at as how very alike they are to each other!)

Here's a little bit of history and an example of what I'm talking about:

"For the past thousand years at least, the celebration of Easter has come to dominate spring ritual activity in the Western world. Placed originally in this season for historical reasons (although it was linked with the Jewish lunar festival of Passover, itself determined in relation to the Spring Equinox), the Christian feast's theme of renewal and triumph over death was certainly in tune with its position in the yearly cycle, and could be easily wedded to the local pagan customs. As in the case of Christmas, however, the importance of the festival of Easter and its linking to international rather than community religious observance have encouraged the migration of Easter customs- even those with pre-Christian origins- and made it harder to trace their individual provenance. The "Easter bunny" that has become the main focus of the Anglo-American commercial packaging of the feast goes back to a Germanic mythology of Spring: he is Osterhase or "Easter hare," the fertility animal who accompanies the Goddess of Spring and Dawn- and old English name of that goddess (Eostre) has remained as the name of the feast even in its purely Christian form."

(excerpt from The Apple Branch by Alexei Kondratiev)

There's one example: The Easter Bunny.

So, what you need to do is come up with two more examples of the similarities between Ostara/any other pagan Spring rites and Christianity. You don't need to go as in depth as above unless you want to, that was just an example, but feel free to run with this theme! If you're having difficulties finding examples of the similarities, go ahead and give two tid-bits of info on Ostara that you find interesting. Most important, have fun with it! You have until Thursday, the 22nd, in the a.m. to post your answers in the Comments section. There's a nice little prize for the winner!


Barb said...

I honestly could'nt tell you similarities, but I found some interesting tidbits i'll share about Ostara, Traditional foods are leafy green veggies, nuts, and dairy, and I found a lot of refrence too flowers, and planting a Magikal Herb Garden, it's about planting new seeds for the harvest and rebirth :)

Linda said...

Can I point out the most obvious similarity? The word "Easter" comes from "Oestre", the goddess of Spring and dawn. Also an interesting fact I found out - the pagan holiday following Ostara is Beltane!

Linda said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
a blossom knits said...

All cultures living in temperate (or winter dominated) climates celebrate the coming of spring with major rituals and festivals. One of the most important of spring festivals among pre-Christian Germanic tribes apparently was dedicated to the goddess Ostara, whose name suggests "east" and thus "dawn" and "morning light." (

From my research, the most prominent theme throughout celebrations of this time of year is – rebirth. It is widely accepted that most religions celebrate some sort of “rebirth” ritual that coincides with the coming of the Spring season. It is interesting to note that Christians still attach the name of a heathen goddess to their most sacred holiday: Easter or Ostern / Eastre. In other European languages the holiday's name is based on the Hebrew word "pasah," to pass over, thus reflecting the Christian holiday's Biblical connection with the Jewish Passover.

Many of our current customs have their origins within Pagan rituals. The curative powers of water drawn on Easter morning and the decoration of eggs; which was a very strong symbol of fertility and rebirth, are such examples. Many cultures have a strong tradition of egg coloring; among Greeks, eggs are traditionally dyed dark red and given as gifts.

Some people claim that during the Spring Equinox, you can balance an egg on its end due to the gravity of the Earth being in harmony. This is not necessarily true and the buster of this myth (sorry, Discovery Channel) has written up an extensive essay on this here.

Lana said...

Some similarities of the Christian Easter and Ostara/Eostre are:

For one, the name of Easter and Ostara/Eostre are very similar...LOL!
Both feast holidays are considered moveable feast days...not fixed to a specific date on the calendar, both follow the motion of the sun/moon and the seasons.
We think of Easter and the images of eggs and bunnies pop into our head, even though commercialized nowadays. This tradition stems from the ancient Tuetonic (Germanic) Goddess, Eostre. Her chief symbols were the rabbit (for fertility) and the egg. (representing the egg of creation)
Also a similarity, Easter is the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus. Ostara/Eostre is the celebration of the resurrection of the earth, the reawakening and renewing of ourselves and the things around us.

ambermoggie said...

can't think of much have funeral of my uncle Thursday so off to England tomorrow til Friday. However mix of good and bad as it is my grandsons birthday Thursday also so we are having party in the evening. The goddess gives and she takes away
We always have a party for Ostara and have lots of different games including pin the tail on the hare or bunny, easter egg hunt throughout the garden, and of course the famous Preston activity that is done there on easter but we do for ostara. What is it you ask? Easter egg rolling, usually hard boiled eggs, rolled down steep hill

Melanie said...

OK, I got lot's of stuff. I like doing research so this was really fun for me! I tried to find stuff that other people had not come up with yet. =)

1)The Easter Egg Hunt
Eggs were decorated and offered as gifts and to bring blessings of prosperity and abundance in the coming year; this was common in Old Europe. As Christianity rose and the ways of the "Old Religion" were shunned, people took to hiding the eggs and having children make a game out of finding them. This would take place with all the children of the village looking at the same time in everyone's gardens and beneath fences and other spots.

It is said, however, that those people who sought to seek out heathens and heretics would bribe children with coins or threats, and once those children uncovered eggs on someone's property, that person was then accused of practicing the old ways.

2) The Easter Basket
A popular myth says that the children of the time presented eggs to the goddess as a gift in return for her bringing them the spring. She was so touched by this gift that she recruited her minions (the rabbits) to return the eggs (only brightly colored now) to the children in baskets (the birds’ nests), and that is where the tradition of rabbits delivering eggs to children comes from.
Also, for every pagan is customary to leave food and drink out for the fairies. At Imbolc, the gifts are of dairy origin. At Lammas, fresh grains or baked bread. At Ostara, it is customary to leave something sweet.(honey, mead, candy)..this could also be a connection to the Easter Basket.

3) The traditional Ham dinner
Ham is the traditional main course served in many families on Easter Sunday, and the reason for this probably has to do with the agricultural way of life in old Europe. In late fall, usually in October, also known as the month of the Blood Moon, because it referred to the last time animals were slaughtered before winter, meats were salted and cured so they would last through the winter. Poorer people, who subsisted on farming and hunting, would often eat very sparingly in winter to assure their food supply would last. With the arrival of spring, there was less worry, and to celebrate the arrival of spring and of renewed abundance, they would serve the tastiest remaining cured meats, including hams. This also marked a seasonal end to eating cured foods and a return to eating fresh game (as animals emerged from hibernation looking for food), and no longer relying on stored root vegetables, but eating the young green plants so full of the vitamins and minerals that all living beings need to replenish their bodies in spring.

4)Why Easter does not have a "set" date.
Ostara's "day" is Eostara, the night of the Vernal Full Moon. The Church doesn't do Full Moons, but Easter is on the Sunday after the Vernal Full Moon each year, and that's why it is never set on the calendar. Furthermore, if Easter Sunday did happen to be the Vernal Moon, the Church was very pointed in being sure it was moved to the Sunday after so there would be no suspected associated with "wicked" Pagan holidays.

OK, so there you have it. Sorry to be so long winded!