Ostara or Eostre
Ostara, or Eostre or Eastre, is the Germanic Goddess of the spring and dawn.
Ostra brings the energy of light, hope, fertility, growth, and new beginnings.
In Celtic countries it is customary to leave food and drink out for the fairies on the nights of the festivals, and it is believed that if the fairies are not honored with gifts at these times, they will work mischief in our lives.
Leave gifts of dairy, like cheese, butter or fresh cream, also honey, mead, candy, & gather fresh flowers
Old English Ēostre continues into modern English as Easter meaning 'to shine'
In Greece for example, “Easter” is called “Lambros” which translates as “shining” or “bright.”
Symbols of Ostra
A little History:
Where does the name 'Easter' come from?
Pagan traditions give us the English word "Easter" which comes from the word "Eostre“ (the name of an Anglo-Saxon Goddess).
The Anglo-Saxon word for April was "Eostre-monath" (the month of openings). However, it should be remembered that Christians celebrated the resurrection of Christ long before the word "Easter" was used, and the word they used for the celebration was "Pascha", which is derived from and linked to the Jewish festival of Passover. Anglo-Saxon rituals related to the Goddess Eostre focus on new beginnings, symbolized by the Easter egg, and fertility, which is symbolized by the hare (or Easter bunny). (An Anglo-Saxon legend tells how Eostre found a wounded bird and transformed it into a hare, so that it could survive the Winter. The hare found it could lay eggs, so it decorated these each Spring and left them as an offering to the Goddess).
How is Easter connected to Passover?
Easter and Passover always fall close to each other but they are not always at exactly the same time. For many centuries before Jesus' birth, the Jewish people had their own special spring festival, called Passover (Pesach). Passover commemorates the time when God rescued the people of Israel from slavery and Moses led them out of Egypt. It is the Israelite's liberation from Egypt that led to the beginning of Judaism. Jesus, a Jew, was crucified during Passover time and it is said that the Last Supper was a Passover seder (a ritual meal that commemorates the Biblical accounting of the Jews escape from Egyptian slavery). It is Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection that led to the start of Christianity. Both Easter and Passover revolve around the idea of rebirth. Jesus is resurrected or born again, and the slaves are reborn into freedom. Both festivals link the idea of birth or rebirth with Easter eggs and the hard-boiled eggs served on Passover.
Symbols and Games of Easter Why do we give eggs at Easter?
Why do we have eggs at Easter? Eggs were traditionally a forbidden food during Lent, making them a welcome return to the menu on Easter Day. Why do we give eggs at Easter? Easter is a Christian festival. For Christians, the custom of giving eggs at Easter celebrates new life. Christians remember that Jesus, after dying on the cross, rose from the dead. They believe that, through his resurrection, Jesus defeated death and sin and offers people the promise of eternal life if they follow his teachings.
Easter Egg Miracle
The tradition of using eggs to celebrate Easter began soon after Jesus was resurrected since eggs were already a natural symbol of new life.
Often, ancient Christians would hold eggs in their hands as they proclaimed "Christ is risen!" to people on Easter.
Christian tradition says that when Mary met the Roman emperor Tiberius Caesar at a banquet, she held up a plain egg and told him: "Christ is risen!". The emperor laughed and told Mary that the idea of Jesus Christ rising from the dead was as unlikely as the egg she held turning red in her hands. But the egg did turn a bright shade of red while Tiberius Caesar was still speaking. That miracle caught the attention of everyone at the banquet, which gave Mary the opportunity to share the Gospel message with everyone there.
What were the first Easter eggs like?
The first eggs given at Easter were birds eggs. These eggs were painted in bright colors to give them further meaning as a gift. Some people still paint chicken eggs today. As chocolate became more wide spread in the 20th Century, a chocolate version of the traditional painted egg was developed and these days most people give chocolate eggs as presents. The size of the chocolate egg has grown over the years and is now more likely to be the size of an ostrich egg rather than a small birds egg. The eggs are either hollow or have a filling, and are usually covered with brightly colored silver paper. Around 80 million chocolate eggs are eaten each year in Britain. Small chocolate eggs are hidden for the children to find on the traditional Easter Egg Hunt. In recent years this game has been linked to the Easter Bunny, which only arrived in England relatively recently .Origins of Coloring Eggs at Easter Decorating and coloring eggs for Easter was a common custom in England in the middle ages. Eggs were brightly colored to mimic the new, fresh colors of spring. The practice of decorating eggs was made even more famous by King Edward I of England who ordered 450 eggs to be gold-leafed and colored for Easter gifts in 1290.
Special Food at Easter (England)
After the lean months of winter and the fast weeks of Lent, food at Easter was always a special treat. Easter day, like Christmas day, is also associated with special food. Boiled eggs are traditionally served at breakfast, then Easter cards and gifts may be exchanged. The traditional Easter pudding is custard tarts sprinkled with currants and flat Easter biscuits. These days Hot Cross Buns are eaten warm with butter. The pastry cross on top of the buns symbolizes and reminds Christians of the cross on which Jesus died. Simnel cake is baked for tea.
The Simnel cake is a rich fruitcake covered with a thick layer of almond paste (marzipan). A layer of marzipan is also traditionally baked into the middle of the cake. Eleven balls of marzipan are placed around the top to represent the eleven true Disciples (excluding Judas).
Originally the simnel cake was a gift to mothers on Mothering Sunday in Mid Lent.
Easter Biscuits: Easter Biscuits are sometimes called "Cakes", and are eaten on Easter Sunday. They contain spices, currants and sometimes grated lemon zest. (These "cakes" remind me of soul cakes.)
Easter Holidays many families go away on holiday for the Easter weekend.
Examples of Simnel cake
Hot cross buns – a traditional sweet bread full of spices – best eaten warm with butter.
The buns were traditionally eaten at breakfast time, hot from the oven.
They were once sold by street vendors who sang a little song about them:
“Hot cross buns, Hot cross buns, One a penny, two a penny, Hot cross buns” (Good Friday)
Those who share a hot cross bun are supposed to enjoy a strong friendship and bond for the next year. A line from an old rhyme captures this lore, says Irish Central: “Half for you and half for me, between us two, good luck shall be.”
Hot cross buns too sacred to eat any old day.
In 1592, Queen Elizabeth I decreed that hot cross buns could no longer be sold on any day except for Good Friday, Christmas or for burials.
They were simply too special to be eaten any other day. To get around this, people baked the buns in their own kitchens—although if they were caught they had to give up all of the illegal buns on their premises to the poor.
They expel bad spirits.
Due to the blessed cross on top, hot cross buns hung in the kitchen are supposed to protect from evil spirits. They’re also said to prevent kitchen fires from breaking out, and ensure that all breads baked that year will turn out perfectly delicious. Likewise, taking hot cross buns on a voyage at sea endows the boat with some protection from shipwreck, according to legend.
As well as going to church to remember and pray to Jesus and God, special Easter activities include re-enacting the journey into Jerusalem on a donkey and waving palm leaves in front of the procession.