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  • Jennifer Hartman

Ostara for the Family

Updated: Mar 9

Celebrating Ostara: The Dawn of Spring

Ostara is a feast day found on the Wheel of the Year. It is celebrated by new age Norse Pagans, Wiccans, and some old way Heathens.

The earliest traces of Ostara comes from England in the 600s. Danish Vikings who settled in Kent, England celebrated it during Eosturmonath (Eostre Month/Ostara Month), and worshipped the spring goddess Ostara (Eostre). This comes from documentation by an English monk named Bede, who wrote about it in chapter 15 of De temporum ratione. (Side note: Some historians believe Bede elaborated this story and invented the goddess; but others believe he was an honest monk who would have preferred to downplay pagan customs to avoid worship of a non-Christian deity. Bede's timeline also gives him direct access to the truth compared to the historians who question him; Regardless of this argument, the Ostara celebration has existed since pre-historic times - goddess or no goddess).


Ostara herself is the goddess of the shining dawn, spring and fertility. She is known to bring joy and blessings to her worshippers. She was worshipped during a month named after her (Eosturmonath). It would have been celebrated on the full moon after the spring equinox. This full moon would represent the “pregnant” phase of the goddess heading into the fertile crop season. During the first signs of spring, worshippers would light bonfires, take part in sword dances, play egg-games and enjoy pastries in heathen-form. At dawn women would dress in white and show themselves on mountain cliffs.

There is an older, historical name for Ostara found in hundreds of inscriptions dating to the time of 150-250 Morken-Harff, Germany. The older name is matron Austriahena, which is the original name that evolved into several versions leading to Eostre and Ostara. 1800s scholar, Jacob Grimm, backs up this idea by explaining the pagan traditions must have been so firmly rooted in the culture that the governing church had to tolerate it and adapt it to its own society. He uses the 'Easter-egg' as a specific example, stating preachers used the Heathen-egg tradition to entertain followers by connecting it to Christian stories. For Ostara's connection to love, pleasure, magic and hare, other scholars have linked her to other goddesses such as: Freya, Aphrodite and Luxuria.


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Ostara and the Hare


Not much is said about the historical significance of Ostara and hare, but it is obvious that the hare has an ancient historical significance during great spring festivals of prehistoric Saxon and British worship.


There are not any direct historical links between Ostara and the hare; except they were both worshipped (separately) in the spring, and both at the time of the full moon. The hare is seen as a symbol of everlasting renewal, and maternal goddesses are often portrayed with them.


During the German folklore movement of the 19th century, a couple tales about Ostara and a hare were created.


The first tale explains the hare was once a bird with an injured wing. Even if she healed it, Ostara knew it would never fly again. Instead she transformed it into a four-legged animal known as a hare. To thank Ostara, the hare lays an egg for her every spring on her festival day. A second tale explains the hare was once a bird that delivered messages of spring to Ostara. Ostara transformed the bird into a hare so it could endure the winter. In memory of its former shape, it lays colourful eggs every year for spring.

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Activities for the Family


1. Make natural egg-dye

Pick up or go foraging for berries to use for natural egg dye, then decorate the eggs and serve at your Ostara feast!


2. Story time

Tell your children about the stories of Ostara and the Hare, and have them create their own story around it!


3. Plant Seeds

Using the empty egg cartons, plant some seeds for your garden. The egg carton is nutrient rich and better for the environment than plastic nurseries you get from garden suppliers.


4. Set intentions

Dress in white and greet the dawn with your intention for the upcoming spring. It is also a great time to explain to children that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. This is important because the name 'Ēostre' also means 'eastern', making her the 'eastern goddess' among other names.


5. Decorate bird houses

Birds returning from their migration are going to need a spot to rest and eat. Have your kids paint bird retreats and then go outside to hang them.


6. Make musical eggs maracas

This one is great for the babies and toddlers. To make musical egg maracas, grab anything egg-shaped, fill it with rice, tape it up and let them shake, shake, shake!


7. Potluck Feast

Back in the ancient times a feast day often meant several members of the community gathered together to eat and drink. If hosting a potluck is not an option, try to have each member of the family contribute to your Ostara feast.


8. Colouring Activity

Have the kids colour in the free Freya printable activity gifted by Run Wild Earth Child. It is available on my site under 'Activities: Featured Artists'. Freya is also worshipped around spring time for her connection with fertility and love.


9. Spring Cleaning

Spring is the time for renewal and energy. Open those windows and chase away all the stuffy energy in the house. If something feels like it is anchoring you to the ground or affecting you negatively, get rid of it! Make sure your cleaning leaves rooms feeling fresh and revived.


10. Bath Meditation

Draw yourself a bath full of Epson salts and springtime aroma. Invigorating and renewing smells include: lemon, rose, jasmine, eucalyptus and wild orange. Make sure your bath is created and enjoyed with the intent of leaving the bathroom energized and renewed.


Alternatively, if you are stuck inside due to bad weather, I highly recommend taking a look at runwildearthchild.com for their Ostara acivity bundle. The package is full of Wardorf inspired material that is available to use the moment you print them off. Included in it is the free Freya printable they have gifted here on my site! I hope you enjoyed my Ostara lesson and family activity list. If you have any activities you would like to recommend, please tag me on social media (@pagankids) or add it to the comment section below.

Blessed Ostara everyone! Sincerely, Jennifer Hartman Pagan Kids pagankids.org


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Sources:

Ostara (festival and goddess)

  • http://self.gutenberg.org/articles/%C4%92ostre

Bede's attestation:

  • Chapter 15 (De mensibus Anglorum, De temporum ratione

Ostara and Hare

Matron Austriahena:

  • http://self.gutenberg.org/articles/%C4%92ostre

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