When thinking of Spring Equinox or Ostara there’s the bunnies and the eggs . The Easter Bunny is German in origin. He first appears in literature in 16th century as a deliverer of eggs. All rabbits and hares were thought to lay eggs on Easter Day but today the bunny simply brings baskets of eggs and other goodies for children.
Despite the fact that this is a Pagan holiday, Christians have now celebrated it as a time of rebirth as well.
The Goddess Ostara or Eeostre was a Germanic Goddess of Spring and fertility. Her name and hence the name of this holiday and Easter were derived from her.
On the Spring Equinox the Sun rises exactly in the east travels through the sky for 12 hours and sets exactly in the west. On the Equinox this is the motion of the sun through the sky for everyone on earth. Every place on earth experiences a 12 hour-day twice a year on the Spring and Fall Equinox. After the Spring Equinox, the sun still continues to follow a higher and higher path through the sky, with the days growing longer and longer, until it reaches it highest point in the sky on Summer Solstice.
Easter Sunday falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon after March 20, the nominal date of the Spring Equinox. This is no accident and is in fact the link back to the original origin of the holiday with sun and moon worship.
Wiccans and other pagans continue to celebrate the Spring Equinox as one of their eight sabbats or holidays of the year.
After the earth is wrapped in slumber under snow and clouds and cold this is now a time of balance. It is a balance between winter and spring and the rebirth of the Goddess and the sun God as they bring new life to the earth.
Grass begins to turn green and buds are on the trees. The birds start singing and the Maiden Goddess aspect is honored as this new time of hope and life emerge.
Honoring the new life in the form of seeds is a popular activity at this time. Blessing seeds for planting, or starting your garden is a very popular and appropriate activity for Ostara.
Eostre’s magical companion was said to be a rabbit who accompanied her as she brought new life to plants by hiding the eggs in the fields. Rabbits, representing fertility, are plentiful and of course fertile. The baby chicks begin to hatch and hens have enough natural light to begin laying eggs at this time. The eggs are inscribed with symbols and decorated as signs of prosperity at this time.
There is a tale that Eostre found a wounded bird in the snow. To help the bird survive the winter, she turned it into a rabbit. She didn’t completely transform the animal, however, so the rabbit could still lay eggs. In thanks for its life being saved, the rabbit took the eggs and decorated them and left them as gifts for Eostre. She liked them so much she wanted everyone to share and so the tradition of Eostre eggs continued.