Unintentional Injuries and Ostara February 29, 2012Posted by acroanmph in Public Health.
Tags: Easter, Family Traditions, Ostara, Spiritual Health, Ēostre
Fantastic powder and continued snowfall brought us back to Crystal Mountain for our weekly ski day. I looked forward to a regular run with a first-time guest we brought along who was performing impressively. I took a sudden bad fall, my body careening one way, one ski unnaturally in the other. Pressure in my knee and a pop. And I still had to get down the mountain. Turns out I tore my MCL.
In and out of a medicinal haze, one leg having the mistaken self-identity of a wet noodle, my thoughts traveled. They went to exotic, wondrous realms that we all occasionally glimpse. They roamed far and long. They focused particularly on the beauty and majesty of the earth and I don’t know how to describe it really, but I felt the Wheel turn. It wasn’t the first time, but it was perhaps the strongest.
It’s still wintry outside, but the crocuses are popping up in little yellow armies all over the place. My tulips and daffodils are close behind. Easter. My husband’s annual musings: What do bunnies and eggs have to do with the resurrection of Jesus Christ? And why did He ascend into heaven after 3 days? On and on. We don’t have answers for him.
Every year with grand pageantry we frantically rush about in fancy clothes, search for colored eggs, eat a special breakfast, speed to make it to the church service on time, sign all the kiddos into appropriate classes — if they want — or would they like to come sit with mommy and daddy this time? Can they be quiet and sit still for an hour? No? Ok, sign them all in to separate classes as originally planned, run down the hallway and up some stairs, quickly compose ourselves before entering the sanctuary, squeeze into separate spots on overcrowded pews and, with a sigh, sit down to receive the famous, magical, miraculous lesson that is Easter. After all that, we’re still asking the same questions and wondering if this was how God intended for us to spend Easter morning.
In an effort to feel more fulfilled this year, we will be celebrating Ostara instead. I found some answers on my own, things that even my many college religions classes never touched upon.
In celebration of the Germanic goddess Eostre, the holiday contributed not just its name to Easter. Prior to Christianity, people celebrated the balance of light and darkness, the return of the sun and the warming of the earth, fertility of animals, especially the abundance of goats’ milk, and the hare who is nocturnal all year until early spring when it is in a frenzy to mate as much as possible. Female hares can even conceive more than one litter at a time. As gifts, people decorated eggs in bright colors for their neighbors and friends as tokens of the new life spring brings. The celebratory meal consisted of, among other things, ham and honey. Ham, because all winter they survived on salted meats and ham was considered the finest. For a period before Ostara, they would fast (hello, Lent) to purge their bodies of the heavy, unhealthy meals. And honey, as a symbol of pollination which would yield a bounty of fruits and vegetables. (We turn that “sweet” into chocolate and candy.) Ostara was a celebration of the wonder of all Earth’s gifts, and a time of renewal. A time to be grateful.
The onset of Christianity (I don’t mean for that to sound like a disease-state) sought to forcibly banish all these customs. People who wanted to retain the old ways then had to hide their colored eggs on their friends’ land. Children were sent out with baskets to find and collect them. The ancient holiday occurs at the vernal equinox. During this time, the moon is dark for 3 nights. Christianity borrowed a bit of that too in determining that Jesus would ascend into heaven after 3 days.
We’ve always known that Christian holidays fall on or around the Pagan ones and that old traditions were loosely incorporated in an effort to persuade people to more readily accept the new religion. Well, to me, one is pretty black and white–a time of joyous thanks that the long winter is finally over and a rejoicing for the promise of new life inside and out. And the other still has so many shades of gray that I can’t see my hand in front of my face. The texts of the Gospels alone, while beautiful, were decided by groups of men who argued time and again what must be included and excluded. And today we live and breathe by those decisions? That doesn’t make sense to me.
On March 20, we will celebrate Ostara. On April 8, I will host Easter dinner for my extended family. I will serve, among other things, ham and honey. After a hectic Easter morning, they can relax at our table knowing they did the right thing earlier that day, and so can I. All I will have had to do is bake the ham and thank God for the miracle that is the Earth.
Ostara blessings to you!
Find the time the vernal equinox will occur in your location. Just prior, if possible, take an egg outside and set it upright. It will balance perfectly – some say for minutes, some say for hours or days – due to the sun’s equidistant position between the poles of the Earth!