Sunday, March 20, 2011

Happy Ostara 2011!

Happy Spring Equinox!  For those who may not know, Peter and I have celebrated the seasonal wheel of the year for years; it's a way to keep us connected to the Divine in the every day and inside Nature.  It keeps me grounded and, honestly, I find it one of the most Sacred ways to commune with the Great Spirit (being in Nature, that is!).  So, today, in honor of the Spring Equinox, we normally have our Egg Hunt (Easter is actually a word derived from "Ostara" but more on that later!).  This year, the annual hunt and lunch was canceled due to the kids being (possibly) contagious.  Maya's rash is clearing up and she seems to be feeling better, while Bobby is getting sicker.  He's had a nasty cough (the symptoms started like a cold in her as well); he hasnt progressed to the fever stage yet, but I noticed a slight rash around his cheekbone/ear area, so I think it is probably a matter of time.  So, that being said, it didnt feel right to have the egg hunt and other families with children here.  Bummer and I'm sad because, even pre-kids, we've had an Ostara celebration with other families.  But, it is what it is, and there will be many hunts to come!

Last year, I was telling you about how we dyed eggs (amongst other things) and 2 years ago, I was on my way to Dr. Lee's, 6dpo with Bobby and Maya nestling deep inside.  3 years ago, I wasn't blogging, but I was fresh off the loss of Nicholas and Sophia and that was the first year in many that we didn't host an egg hunt.  There was no way I was even close to being there, especially since it was a bit over a week from their memorial service.  I didnt want to get out of beg, let alone hide eggs for children who weren't mine (sorry, but it's true) or try and put together some little gather around the bondfire and connect to the Great Spirit (sorry, but that's true too).  I was sad and angry and hurt...  I just wanted to crawl under a rock and stay there until I could be reunited with my babies again.  I still long for that reunification, but these days, I dont want to hide.  Not usually, anyway.

So, we often get the question of why we dont do the bunny and baskets and egg deal on "Easter".  And, looking at my old posts, I realize that I havent really addressed it.  So, here it goes... And, this is what works in our family and is our belief, but, in no way, do we think that those who do have their "Easter eggs/bunnies/baskets/etc" are wrong.  It just doesnt work for us.

The word "Easter" is actually derived from the word "Ostara".  The ancient Germanic peoples celebrated Ostara, a goddess of fertility (who mates with a solar god and has a child on the winter solstice, no less); there are many stories about her connections with the bunnies and eggs, but the story I tell our children, while giving them their ostara candy is this: Ostara, a goddess of light and sunshine of the Old Peoples, was out in the cold and, while she was there, she began to shiver.  Sensing her cold, a rabbit came to her and kept her warm with his fur.  When the sun returned, she thanked the creature for his kindness but granting it immense fertility (explains why bunnies are such baby factories!).  Hence the fertility of the earth is restored in spring after winter, and the eggs- a sign of fertility- are decorated (in homage to the rabbit) and then enjoyed by the children (the product of fertility).  Like I said, there are a bevy of stories about Ostara and her connection to common traditions, but this is the spin I like.

For us, this tradition doesn't belong on Easter, which we privately refer to as "Pascha" since this time is much more linked to the Jewish Passover than the Germanic festivals.  Pascha is Resurrection Day.
We conclude the Holy Tridium by going to Mass at 7:30 and then having a family meal, commemorating the Resurrection of Jesus.   We would rather not confuse our children as to why we are doing things associated with one thing on another day in conjunction with those celebrations.  For us, it doesnt work.  We want the children to have a deep respect for the celebrations of all people and to realize that they are all special in their own right.  There is no reason, in our family, for these holy days to be smushed together or for us to try and "Christianize" what are, clearly (to us) Pagan festivals.  Which we are okay with!  Bring them on!

Just like the earth finds balance on the Spring Equinox, this day symbolizes the return of balance to our own lives.  It's something I'm constantly striving for and tonight, as I sit out under the moon, long after the kids have gone to bed and our tradition has been (momentarily) replaced by a quiet family dinner sans the egg hunt, I think I'll light a candle and ask God to help me strive to be a better woman, a better wife, a better mother... Someone who is able to balance all the tasks at hand... and who does it with a warm word and gentle hand.

So, jump your bonfires and eat your eggs!  Today is the Spring Equinox!  Happy Spring!!!  (On the menu for today... roasted chicken with carrots & potatoes, honey glazed red and gold beats, rosemary bread, green bean casserole (by Peter's request!), my traditional Equinox treat: strawberry cake with white chocolate glaze, and, of course!!!, deviled eggs!)


Anonymous said...

Happy Spring, indeed! I rather like the notion of celebrating both holidays separately. Hope you have a lovely equinox & a lovely Easter as well!

Erin O'Riordan said...

What a lovely post. Thank you for sharing this simple, yet meaningful, family celebration. This is truly what holidays were meant to be. I enjoyed your bunny tale, too.