Thursday, March 20, 2014

Happy Ostara from Handmade Life

I shot out of bed this morning and flew to my sewing basket, only I was still really tired, so maybe “flew” is not the right word.  Unless we are talking about how chickens fly. Have you ever seen a chicken fly? Yeah. It was kind of like that.

I had to put the finishing touches on the children’s Equinox baskets. We spent yesterday afternoon dyeing eggs.  I really meant to get the baskets put together last night after the little ones fell asleep, but I couldn’t keep my eyes open myself. So this morning was kind of, okay REALLY, hectic.

After breakfast, it was time to get out the door for Thursday morning story time at the local library where today’s theme was “the moon and stars.” Chobie is really into holidays, so he wondered why the library didn’t have Easter books at story time. Yes, it’s confusing that we call it Easter, like most people, when we don't celebrate it on the same day as most people. Well, I tried explaining this to him, but then in the middle of my explanation I realized that lunar stories are connected with our Ostara celebration.

Ostara is the name of a traditional German goddess who greens the world with her steps, bringing the Earth back to life in the spring. In the original story of the Easter bunny Ostara is walking through the springtime world with a group of children when they come upon a sick bird who is frozen from winter’s last hard frosts and on the verge of death.

The children beg the goddess to bring her back to life, but she can only do this by changing the bird into a rabbit.

The transformed creature awakens thankful for the gift of continued life and grieving for the loss of her song, her flight, and her eggs. The goddess cannot change her back, but grants her the ability to lay colorful eggs on the first day of spring each year.

The rabbit gives her eggs to all the children, since it was the children walking with Ostara that begged the goddess to bring her back to life.

The only remaining problem was that the bird, as a rabbit, was without here natural defenses, so Ostara granted her one more gift allowing her to live in the moon during most of the year. *

The Germanic people responsible for this story must have also seen the shape of the shadows on the moon as a rabbit.

And so, pretty much by pure luck, we were able to tie in today’s story time with our Spring celebrations.

Not to mention how exciting it is to know that the Easter Bunny really does lay eggs!

When we came home the kids went through their little (sugarless) equinox baskets. That’s right, I’m one of those mean moms who doesn’t give her kids sugar. But they did have other little goodies in them like these little guys:

Next we had our little egg hunt.

Aldyn enjoyed his eggs immensely. How about that for a sensory play experience? 

Have I already discussed how puzzled yet mysteriously enamored I am with the concept of ‘sensory play?’ On the one hand isn’t EVERYTHING that toddlers get into a sensory experience? Maybe it’s just because I let my kid stick his hands into the bowl of beans if he wants to. Even so, what about self-feeding, playing in the dirt, bath time, leaf litter and whatnot on the forest floor, feeling the diversity of everyday textiles in the context of living? On the other hand, who doesn’t want to stick their hands into a tub of rainbow colored rice?


Our Easter Egg tree. This is another Easter tradition popular of German Origin that we adopted last year after reading The Easter Egg Tree by Katherine Milhous.

So those were the highlights from our Equinox celebrations today. We also have a special dinner with poems and stories about this changing time of year.

I’m looking forward to sharing some more of the details of our Easter projects with you all over the next week. Stay tuned for:
·         Sugar Free Celebrations: Easter without Chocolate Bunnies
·         Crochet Baby Chick Tutorial
·         Recycled Paper Bag Easter Baskets
·         Creative Egg Dyeing

*I learned this story from Ellen Jackson’s amazing book The Spring Equinox. This section was my paraphrasing of her version of the story, which was originally adapted from The New Patterns in the Sky: Myths and Legends of the Stars by Julius D. W. Staal.

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  1. ooooh I just love this story! I didn't know the details and I love spring and choose to celebrate easter, while everyone else is doing the Jesus thing I'm hosting brunch but secretly thinking about all the happy nature stuff, now I know why!

  2. Tee hee hee. I was really excited about this story when I found it too. I'm glad you enjoyed it. There's actually an illustrated version of it in the book I mentioned, The Spring Equinox by Ellen Jackson.