Monday, March 21, 2011

Separating Ostara and Easter

Most kids I know think of Easter as a day of chocolate bunnies and boiled eggs. Many of them get dragged along to church, and a number of them even know the story of Jesus being resurrected. But when push comes to shove, I'm pretty sure that if you ask a kid about Easter, they're gonna go back to eggs and bunnies.

My parents wanted to separate Jesus from the candy, so on Easter Sunday we went to church, told the resurrection story, and had no candy whatsoever. The next day, we would hunt for eggs and baskets for our Family Night. I remember at one point when I was 10 or 11 I complained that all our friends got candy a whole day before we did. My mother calmly pointed out that if she waited and bought the candy on monday, it was all half price, and she would be able to get us twice as much. I was sold! I actually went on to tell friends about it for several years--how no, we hadn't gotten our baskets that morning before church, we would have to wait for Monday, but it was ok because we would get extra candy that way. Clearly I thought along the same lines as most other kids in terms of where my focus was.

So I was already accustomed to separating celebrations of the Resurrection from celebrations of springtime, but it still felt a little sloppy... By which I mean that doing it on two adjacent days still felt like it was all one holiday, whereas I wanted a more defined separation.
And then I learned about Ostara.
Most of the things we think of as Easter symbols (eggs, flowers, bunnies, chicks) are actually from Ostara (even the name was snagged from "Oestre" which was a germanic goddess of springtime). Ostara is a celebration of rebirth and new life, so it does fit in spendedly with the themes of Resurrection, but they are not the same thing. One celebrates seasons and cycles, the other celebrates Christ's sacrifice for the eternal salvation of humankind. I don't want to mix them up.

So we separate the two separately.

On Ostara, we celebrate springtime and new life. We dye eggs, make egg/bird/bunny shaped sugar cookies, do spring cleaning, and have a big dinner with spring greens, eggs, poultry, or lamb. We may also get some seasonal candies to share with the family, but we don't have baskets or sneaky bunnies or any of that.

Then, on Easter, we celebrate Christ and the resurrection. No eggs or bunnies. We make a dinner of fish and honey because that's what Christ ate with the apostles, We also make resurrection rolls which are a family favorite.

A note about Ostara and Easter.  Easter's date is actually based on Ostara, because Easter (which is dated off Passover), always falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon after Equinox. This year, the full moon fell one day before Equinox, so the two holidays ended up being a full month apart. Last year they were only a day apart.


Watermelon Gypsy said...
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ashley said...

This post is fabulously informative! I never knew about Ostara- but love the idea of keeping Easter all about Christ and the Resurrection, and letting Ostara be about spring and the fun. Loooove it! Thanks for sharing.

Janeen said...

No Easter here, my husband only celebrates Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread complete with going through and deleavening the house and then not allowing any leavening in the house at all for the week following. He even goes after the toaster, taking it apart to make sure it is thoroughly cleaned. Well, he only did that once because he ended up losing a part to it and we had to replace it and I won't allow him to do it again (though it may mean stashing the toaster somewhere else for the week, *sigh*).

I wouldn't mind dying eggs or something like that but he's very anti anything that is even remotely pagan in origin (so no Christmas, Easter, crosses, Halloween, etc).

Natalie Sadler said...

Wonderful, wonderful, WONDERFUL!! I had been thinking about how much I wanted my kids to understand the meaning behind Easter. When I was in primary as a teacher, I would ask children (as old as 9 years!) what they thought the meaning of Easter was, and it would always come out as "Chocolate bunnies! Eggs! Chicks! CANDY!!!!!" One of my students actually mentioned that they got presents like on Christmas. That's not what Easter means to me! From that day on (I was 19 and not even dating my "future husband"), I vowed to make it priority to help my kids understand that Easter is a time to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Thank you for this post! It was SO wonderful!

Jillian Raftery said...

cool idea!!!

Cheryl said...

Very well written and informative... And excellent point about candy the day after easter... LOL... I kinda missed dyeing eggs for Ostara, but I dyed yarn instead...

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