Do you want to know what Ostara is (and whether it’s the same thing as Spring Equinox), along with rituals to celebrate this turn of the Wheel? Keep reading, and by the end of this, you’ll have everything you need to create your own beautiful Ostara celebration at home.
I love this time of year. Although mamma nature doesn’t always give us the degree of warmth we crave around this time, spring is definitely in the air. The birds start to sing in the early mornings, flowers bloom, the days get lighter, and a sense of renewed hope and possibility is in the air.
Can you feel it?
What is Ostara?
Ostara is one of the four quarter-point (solar) holidays in the Wheel of the year, celebrated by witches, Wiccans, and Pagans. There are also four cross-quarter (fire) holidays, and together these make the eight main celebrations of the Wheel.
At its heart, Ostara is a celebration of spring. We’ve made it through a long, dark, cold winter, and the snow, ice, and frost are finally thawing. The days lengthen, and the evenings lighten. It’s the rebirth of the sun. Just like we have come out of a (sort of) hibernation, the animals on the planet also start to.
Everything “springs” back to life, energy increases, and we move into a season of vitality and growth. Ostara (and the season of spring) is linked to the maiden archetype, which symbolizes youth, innocence, playfulness, life, passion, and energy. And many Ostara rituals will weave these themes.
“Ostara” comes from the Germanic goddess “Eostre” of spring, fertility, and rebirth. Many animals on Earth start to mate again, particularly hares and rabbits, which is why these are symbols associated with this festival. The hare has long been a symbol of the feminine because they are associated with the moon, another symbol of the feminine. The hare is said to die and resurrect every morning and night, just like Grandmamma moon.
This is also a perfect time to sow new seeds in the garden. We can take this in a literal as well as metaphorical sense. It’s an invitation to plant new seeds in our life, whether it’s new intentions, goals, or investing our energy into a particular project at work.
When is Ostara?
Ostara always takes place somewhere between March 20th to the 23rd. But with all the sabbats of the Wheel of the year, the energy of this day can be felt for a few days on either side. If you work with the moon cycle, you may know that this is true for the moon phases too.
Some people believe that the energy of each sabbat continues through to the next one, which is Beltane on May 1st.
Ostara 2023 is happening on March 20th.
Wheel of the year holidays:
- Samhain (October 31st to November 1st)
- Yule/Winter Solstice (December 20th-23rd)
- Imbolc (February 1st)
- Ostara/Spring Equinox (March 20th-23rd)
- Beltane (May 1st)
- Litha/Summer Solstice (June 20th-23rd)
- Lammas (August 1st)
- Mabon/Autumn Equinox (September 20th-23rd)
Is Ostara the same as Spring Equinox?
The word “equinox” is rooted in the Latin phrase “aequus nox,” which means “equal night.” That’s an easy way to remember what the Spring and Autumn Equinoxes are about. Both are days in the year when there is an equal length of day and night because the sun shines directly on the equator.
The Spring Equinox marks the astrological start of spring, while the Autumn Equinox marks the astrological start of autumn. It’s important to note that this is the case if you live in the Northern hemisphere. All Wheel dates (and moon phases) are reversed if you live in the Southern hemisphere.
Many people (including me) use the terms Ostara and Spring Equinox interchangeably because they occur on the same day. However, the Spring Equinox is an astrological occurrence and can’t be debated, whereas Ostara is a Pagan celebration that requires belief in the Wheel.
To make things even more complicated, meteorologically speaking, spring begins on March 1st and continues through to May 31st. These dates are based on temperature cycles. But as we know, nature is not rigid like this.
For me and most others who celebrate Ostara (and the other Wheel festivals), it’s more about your intentions and honoring that we’re moving into a new season.
Symbols of Ostara
Goddesses: Eostre, Isis, Lady of the Lake, Persephone
Gods: Osiris, Adonis, Lord of the Greenwood
Animals: Hares, rabbits, snakes
Are Ostara & Easter the same thing?
It’s no coincidence that Easter overlaps with Ostara. You’ll find that many modern religious observances have been calculatingly placed at the same time as Pagan holidays, which I believe was an attempt to erase them, the same way that physical churches have been built on top of sacred holy sites like wells and springs. For example, Halloween has replaced Samhain (and has been viciously distorted). Christmas has hijacked Winter Solstice & Yule.
I no longer celebrate Easter and Christmas because they feel hollow and icky to me. I much prefer to honor the Wheel dates because they are linked to our Earth (billions of years old) rather than a man-made religion that is only a few thousand years old.
Easter Sunday always follows the full moon that occurs after Spring Equinox. The connection of the hare and the moon with fertility somehow transformed into the “Easter bunny,” who brings egg-shaped chocolate treats to children. But the symbol of the egg for fertility comes from Ostara, so if you did grow up eating chocolate eggs on Easter Sunday (like I did), you have already tapped into the origins of Ostara.
How to celebrate Ostara: 11 rituals to recreate at home this year
Below I’ve curated an eclectic list of Ostara rituals so you can celebrate the return of spring and channel the hope, energy, and light in the air right now. You can choose just one thing to do, a couple, or do the whole lot; it’s entirely up to you. As I always say, let your intuition guide you.
And don’t feel like you need to spend lots of money. Many of the rituals on this list are either free or can be done to suit any budget.
1. Decorate your altar
Typical items you might want to include on your altar are candles, crystals, flowers, artwork, jewelry, and other magical objects.
For Ostara, add some spring flowers, a chalice or bowl filled with water to represent the Goddess, a decorated egg, some seeds, or images of hares or rabbits. Let the colors of Ostara inspire you: pastel shades of green, yellow, pink, and lavender. Rose quartz, aquamarine, amethyst, and moonstone are beautiful crystals for this season.
2. Have a spring clean
Everyone has heard of doing a “spring” clean, and this can double as an Ostara ritual. But instead of just doing a physical declutter and donating anything you no longer want, try and do a full cleanse.
That means clear out your digital life: delete or file away emails, tidy up your cloud space, upload photos from your phone that you want to keep, and delete the rest.
It also means doing an energetic cleanse. You can do this by burning some herbs (rosemary, lavender, sage), using a room spray, or popping some essential oils (lemon and rosemary or lavender are a perfect combo) into a diffuser and let the aroma fill and renew the space.
3. Be in nature
With new shoots and flowers sprouting each day, animals waking up from their winter slumber, and longer and warmer days, being in nature is a wonderful way to celebrate Ostara and immerse yourself in the arrival of spring.
Go for a walk in a park or community garden, or even just step into your own garden, plant your feet on the Earth, and notice all the little things (and the beauty) around you.
4. Find more harmony in your life
Both the Equinoxes symbolize balance because they are the only two days in the year when the day and night are equal in length. This is a call to bring more balance and harmony to your life.
Where do you currently feel out of balance? What do you need to let go of? Where do you need to create stronger boundaries? What are you craving more of? What does harmony look and feel like to you?
5. Buy some flowers for your home
I love buying flowers all year round and placing them around my home and on my altar. But for a simple and beautiful Ostara celebration ritual, treat yourself to some spring blooms. Forage them or pick them up in your local store.
Spring flowers that are seasonal at this time of year include daffodils, crocuses, tulips, primroses, and violets.
6. Decorate eggs
Eggs symbolize rebirth and fertility, which is why they have always been linked to Ostara and the season of spring. A super fun Ostara ritual for the whole family is to decorate eggshells and place them around your home (and even on your altar).
You can even draw sigils or runes on your eggs using a white crayon, then dip them into a colorful dye. Or color them first, then write an intention or wish over the top.
7. Welcome back the sun
At its core, Ostara is a celebration of the sun’s return after the long, dark, cold winter nights. So one of the best rituals for Ostara is to get up before the sun rises and greet it somewhere outdoors.
Spend a full day in the sun (weather permitting!), give thanks for it, and let its warmth kiss your skin. Feel the rays illuminating your whole body and wash away any stagnant energy from winter. If time permits, stay out and watch the sunset.
8. Bake some hot cross buns
The supermarkets here in the UK start selling hot cross buns in January through to Easter Sunday. We associate them with Easter and think the cross represents Jesus’s cross. But actually, the cross represents the quarter points of the Wheel, which I briefly mentioned earlier. Crosses have been a common symbol since ancient times, long before Christianity was invented.
If you like hot cross buns or cinnamon buns, why not bake some fresh ones at home this year?
9. Have an Ostara planting ritual
March is traditionally a time to start planting lots of seeds in the ground so that fruits, vegetables, and flowers grow and bloom from May to September. So why not do an Ostara planting ritual this year?
You can plant berry trees, make seed bombs, a flower hanging basket for your front door, or gift little ribbon-tied sachets of seeds to friends.
As you plant your seeds, think about an intention (or set of intentions) you wish to manifest over the coming months. Every time you tend to your seeds, water them, and see little shoots rising from beneath the ground, think of this as your intention taking root, growing, and manifesting in the physical world.
10. Have an Ostara feast
Food is traditionally a big part of celebration (as it should be). But because the Wheel is so much about living in flow with the seasons and appreciating the unique beauty of each one, doing a seasonal-themed feast will help you tap into the true spirit of Ostara.
Some foods that are perfect to incorporate into your Ostara ritual feast:
- Leafy green veggies
- Fresh fruits
- Hot cross buns or cinnamon buns
- Lemon drizzle cake
- Egg-based dishes (frittata, quiche, custard pie)
11. Decide where you will focus your energy between now and Summer Solstice
The final Ostara ritual I’d like to offer you is declaring where you wish to place your energy and resources between now and Summer Solstice (June 20th – 23rd).
Ostara is a brilliant time to dig into new projects, start a business, and birth new creations. So take time to journal, reflect, and think about what is calling you. Time is finite. When we say yes to something, we automatically say no to something else, and that’s okay.
So choose your choices. And remember that nothing has to be set in stone. Ideas, plans, and projects will inevitably change and evolve as time does and as you do.
How will you celebrate Ostara & the Spring Equinox this year?
I hope this article has clarified what Ostara is, how it relates to the Spring Equinox, and how to celebrate this spring-time sabbat with ritual.
I’d love to know how you will be celebrating Ostara this year. Tell me all in the comments below, whether it’s a recipe you’re baking, a long-time tradition you have, or something else!