The Spring Equinox is the dawn of the new zodiacal year in the Northern Hemisphere. The equinoxes are the two times during the year when the dark of night and the light of day are in balance or equal. Another name for the Vernal Equinox is Ostara, from the name of a German Goddess of fertility, Oestarae. She is the deific equivalent of the Greco Roman goddess, Aurora, the personification of the sunrise. Consider that the Sun rises in the East and her name is where East and Easter both come from. The Christian Easter date was decided by the Council of Nicaea to fall the first Sunday after the first full Moon occurring on or after the March Equinox. This effectively removed its observance from conflicts with either Ostara or Passover.
A creature associate of hers is Ostara’s hare, AKA the Easter bunny. Several websites tell me that she is said to have transformed a bird into a rabbit in order to amuse the children who follow her everywhere. Even though the bird is now a hare- she still lays eggs, only now they are brightly colored eggs. Sound silly? It is probably far more likely that Spring is when the baby animals are born. Rabbits, baby chicks and lambs are indicative of fertility and fertility with Spring. The tropical zodiac is based on the seasons, in contrast to the sidereal zodiac, which is based on the constellations themselves. The sign corresponding to the Vernal Equinox is Aries, the ram.
Ushas (उषः úṣas-), Sanskrit for “dawn”, is the Vedic deity of the East. She is the chief goddess in the Rig Veda and is portrayed as an attractive, beautifully adorned, young woman riding in a chariot. She is dressed in garments of many colors correlating to the changing hues of the sunrise. She brings happiness and dispels fear as she travels the sky.
Eos is the Greek goddess of the dawn. She had an affair with Tithonus, a royal Trojan, and asked Zeus to grant him immortality but she forgot to ask that he be ageless as well as deathless. They had a bunch of children but Tithonus got older and older and eventually he became a grasshopper. Eos is said to have closed him up in a room and “visited him” no more. She was also alleged to have had many lovers which is said to explain the “blush” of dawn.
Click here for a more about Ushas.
There are many holidays and customs associated with March besides Easter. Click here to peruse a few.
March 20th is also International Astrology Day! This year, Donna Cunningham is offering a three-day Blog-a-thon.
Since you know how much I love this kind of thing, here is a “fun” site that discusses all the things that are wrong with Easter for Christians.
Click here for the history of chocolate Easter eggs.
Animal Aid carries vegan chocolate bunnies and cream eggs.
Godiva serves up some beautiful Spring goodies.
Faberge made jeweled eggs fit for an Empress and PBS has a Treasures of the World episode devoted to them.