When we work with love we renew the spirit. This renewal is an act of self-love. It nurtures our growth.Bell Hooks
Spring is a time for renewal and rebirth. In the cycle of seasons, the winter solstice signals the sun’s demise and the spring equinox represents its rebirth and renewal. The word Easter is derived from the Eostre Festival that took place on the first full moon after the Vernal Equinox. The date for Easter is also organized around the Equinox. In alignment with rules proclaimed by the Roman Emporer Constantine in 325 CE, Easter always takes place on the first Sunday, after the first full moon that follows the Vernal Equinox.
Eostre is the Celtic Goddess of Spring. We see evidence of her throughout ancient Anglo-Saxon cultures. She is called OstaraMany of our Easter traditions harken back to her. Her link to rebirth is symbolized by rabbits and eggs. The story goes that Eaostre had a sweet bird to pull her chariot when she brought the sun back each spring. During a storm, her sweet bird broke its wing and was unable to fly south for the winter. So it could survive, Eostre used her powers to turn the sweet bird into a mythical rabbit that lays eggs in all the colors of the rainbow. Easter’s tradition of hot cross buns is said to have originated as a sweet cake partaken in ritual for four directions or seasons. The word ‘bun” was a Greek word for ceremonial cake. Sunrise celebrations that take place to watch the sunrise in the “East” are rooted in the rebirth of the sun and the triumph of light over darkness. Via Christianity, the rebirth transferred to the resurrection of Christ. The triumph over darkness metaphor still held.
Fun fact, in Neil Gaiman’s TV series American Gods, Ostara, portrayed by Kristin Chenoweth, has to reconcile with the fact that those who celebrate Easter are no longer celebrating her. Here is a fun clip of Ostara revealing her powers at a modern-day Easter garden party.
Rebirth and renewal have similar definitions. Rebirth is “to flourish after a decline.” Renewal means “restore to vibrancy.” It’s been a cold, rainy, snowy winter here this year. But with the Equinox we begin to see more light than darkness in a day. Here are some rituals to help us focus on the light:
- Soak in the Sunrise: Set your alarm to get up before dawn and watch the Equinox sunrise as the ancients did.
- Make a Ceremonial Cake: Baking can be rewarding to the senses. Carve out some time to make these hot cross buns.
- Get Crafty with your Eggs: Invite your friends over for an evening of crafty egg decorating in honor of Eostre.