Today is the vernal (spring) equinox*. It is the astronomical beginning of spring in the Northern Hemisphere. Wiccans, Heathens, and various modern Pagans celebrate this day as Ostara, Lady Day, Shubun-sai, or simply the spring equinox (autumnal equinox for our Australian friends). Several current secular Easter traditions including the Easter Bunny, and dying/decorating eggs are considered remnants of pre-Christian spring celebrations. It is a time for the celebration of the renewal of life.
Here are some quotes from the press (and Pagans) on this day.
“People around the world have celebrations on various March dates to mark the passing of winter and the coming spring. Many of these celebrations go back to ancient times. The Norse celebration of spring was called Summer Finding. In Poland spring is celebrated on Marzenna. Ancient Romans celebrated Hilaria, an observation of spring and of the goddess Cybele. Buddhists and Hindus honor spring at Holi.” – Kris Bradley, Confessions of a Pagan Soccer Mom
“Here, in this moment of balance, I honor and recognize the sacred mystery of existence. I am a part of a cosmic dance. A holy and blessed music fills the world. The light and the darkness shift from this moment onward. As it is on the land, so it is in my being. I follow the movement of the Mother, and She works a transformation in me. Be it new beginnings or resolution, the Equinox is a point of transition; of change. I embrace the change.” – Teo Bishop, The Solitary Druid Fellowship’s Equinox Devotional
“As the Vernal Equinox heralds the arrival of spring, it is a time of renewal in both nature and the home, so time for some spring-cleaning! This is more than just a physical activity, it also helps to remove any old or negative energies accumulated over the dark, heavy winter months preparing the way for the positive growing energy of spring and summer. As with all the other key festivals of the year, there are both Pagan and Christian associations with the Spring Equinox.To Pagans, this is the time of the ancient Saxon goddess, Eostre, who stands for new beginnings and fertility. This is why she is symbolized by eggs (new life) and rabbits/hares (fertility).” - Merlin, The Stonehenge News Blog
“Many modern Heathen groups include in their celebrations of the season customs taken from modern Easter celebrations, including decorating eggs, having egg hunts, placing treats in children’s baskets (the treats are brought by Eostre’s rabbit companion, of course), and making hot cross buns, which are sometimes called gebo buns to make them more Heathen [...] Some Heathens observe Ostara as a Summer Finding, celebrating the first spring flowers, the spring equinox, or other signs of the ending of winter. They may ask for the blessings of Eostre or other gods for seeds that will be planted. Others may have a sigrblot around this time, feeling that Ostara marks the beginning of summer and that a blot for victory is more appropriate at this time than Midsummer.” – Sorn, Keeper of Seasons Hall
“While Imbolc is about the possibility of light returning, Ostara is the light arriving. It’s a good time to do your Spring Cleaning, both literally and figuratively. It’s a time of year where new possibilities have a greater effect on some magics and it’s a great time to clear out the old and start the new. So what better time than to do some broom magic?!” – Owl, The Pagan Household
“Christians would have you believe that Easter is about the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth from the dead, and to a large extent, that’s certainly true, but Easter is about more than that. In many ways Easter is a traditional pagan holiday, celebrating Spring and the renewal of life. Since Beltane and the Spring Equinox are not generally celebrated by our society as a whole, Easter fills the void of “secular Spring holiday.” I think we all know that eggs, plastic grass, and chocolate bunnies have nothing to do with Jesus, and everything to do with the ideas of renewal and fertility (along with crass commercial marketing, but I digress).” – Jason Mankey, Raise the Horns
May you all enjoy a fruitful and blessed spring!
* Technically speaking, the 2013 March Equinox happens at March 20th 11:02 UTC. In my neck of the woods, that means that the equinox actually happened last night. Check your time zone for exact calculations.