Ostara is the Vernal or Spring Equinox. It occurs when the Sun passes into the astrological sign of Aries, around the 20th or 21st of March each year. This is a time when day and night are equal in length. From this night the forces of light wax and the forces of darkness wane, but on this night they are equally balanced. Ostara is a between time, one of the eight portals of the seasons, during which we may more easily move from this world into the realms of Faerie. The traditions associated with this festival, surviving in the mainstream of Western culture, are those that have collected about the celebration of Easter.
The Celts called the equinox Alban Eiler, Light of the Earth. And, indeed, this is the time of the year when the Earth appears to glow with new life. Tender green leaves in the sunlight create a dazzlement like no other. Later the Saxons brought their Goddess Eostre to Britain. It is from Her name that we derive the word Easter. To the Saxons, the equinox was Ostara, the day of Lady Eostre, goddess of spring and new life. Eostre was first Eastre or ‘Radiant Dawn’ who was escorted by a rabbit or hare. From Her name derives ‘estrus’ the biological term for the time during which female animals are in heat and able to conceive young. One of the symbols of Ostara is the egg, the perfect container of new life. Anyone who has ever had the privilege of witnessing the miracle of a chick birthing itself from within its egg understands this symbol perfectly.
One of the traditions associated with Easter, and still flourishing today, is the custom of wearing new clothes. Wearing new clothes on Easter Day brought good luck for the coming year. Even today, many believe that the sun dances on Easter morning. As late as 1725, it was still the custom in some areas of Britain to be up before sunrise on Easter day, and go out into the fields, to see the sun dance. Often this event was viewed in the water of a sacred well or pool. One must inevitably connect such customs to the sunrise services practiced today by many Christian denominations.