Goodbye Christmas – Spring is on the Way! All about Ostara
Friday, 12 January 2018 | Kate
The shortest day of 2017 fell just before Christmas as usual. Now the festivities are well and truly over, we're starting to think about spring and all the gorgeous hippy clothes we're sourcing for the new season. And we're already looking forward to the next equinox in March, also called Ostara, Lady Day and Alban Eiler, the day when we can - at last - begin to look forward to longer lovely, light evenings again. So what's the spring equinox all about?
It's January – Why are the days still getting shorter?
Plenty of us expect the mornings and evenings to start getting lighter from the winter solstice onwards. Logic says they should. But the mornings continue darkening until early in the new year and the sunset keeps getting earlier for a while, simply because a solar day isn't always exactly 24 hours long. It's actually only 24 hours long four times a year, and never during December. The sun lags behind the clock for part of the year, then overtakes it the rest of the time. This is why we get the earliest sunset of the year a couple of weeks before the shortest day, and the mornings keep getting darker until a couple of weeks after it.
About Ostara – The Spring Equinox
Spring officially begins with the Spring Equinox, which falls on Tuesday 20th March 2018 at 12.15pm. Called Ostara on the Pagan calendar, it marks the astronomical first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere.
Astronomically, the first day of spring is the spring equinox, and it happens at the same time wherever you are in the world. Meteorologically, the first day of spring is 21st March, simply because weather scientists like to divide the year into quarters to compare weather stats from one year to the next based on annual temperature cycles rather than the earth's position compared to that of the sun. Day and night are never 100% equal on the equinox because daytime kicks off the second the sun starts peeking over the horizon, and doesn't end until the final tiny sliver of it has set.
Our ancestors were a lot more connected to the skies, nature and weather than we are today. Ancient people created magical structures to track the sun and moon across the sky, amazing places like Stonehenge and Machu Picchu, both symbolic markers of the changing seasons. Today many of us, especially in big cities, never see the stars clearly thanks to light pollution. But you can still tell that spring's on the way by observing what nature is up to.
Is it spring yet? Here are some natural signs to look out for
In spring earthworms come top the surface. That's why some people call March's full moon the Full Worm Moon. Look up and you might see birds migrating, following the sun's path. The more sunlight there is, the harder birds sing – you know spring is on the way because the dawn chorus steadily gets louder and more joyous as the equinox approaches.
Trees, shrubs and flowers begin to wake up, providing a reliable indicator of when the weather's right for planting crops. When the crocuses are in flower, for example, it's the perfect time to plant out radishes. Many animals shed their winter coats at this time of year, revealing cooler, lighter winter fur. And if you spot a hare boxing with a rival in a field near you, that's the traditional 'Mad March Hare' getting ready to mate.
How do pagans celebrate the Spring Equinox?
Some say Ostara celebrations originate with ancient Celtic and Saxon spring holidays, later merged with the Christian festival of Easter, others say it's a modern thing. Whatever is the truth, plenty of religions celebrate in one way or another at or around the spring equinox, including Hindus, Jews and Sikhs.
Ostara celebrates Eostre, the Saxon Lunar Goddess of fertility, who is symbolised by the egg and the rabbit, later adopted by Christians for Easter. On the big day pagans and others who celebrate the event eat leafy green vegetables, dairy, nuts, flowers and sprouts. They burn jasmine, rose, strawberry and other floral incenses. The sacred gemstone for Ostara is jasper, and pagans spend the day planting seeds, creatring herb gardens, walking in the country and reflecting on nature's aesome majesty.
Lovely hippy clothes for spring 2018
We start spring early by sourcing fantastic, fresh spring clothing for our customers. Keep your eyes open for our 2018 collection!