It only took thirty one years, but this week I finally got round to googling why the date for Easter is always different. Unlike Christmas, the Easter weekend is calculated using a lunisolar calendar, which combines the position of the sun with the phases of the moon. For a Christian celebration, it all sounds quite pagan, doesn’t it? Even the name originates from the Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring, Eostre, which then morphed into Ostara - the second of three spring festivals in the Wheel of the Year. A celebration of new life and new beginnings, it’s easy to see why Christians celebrate the resurrection of their own deity at this time.
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This year, Easter doesn’t fall until the beginning of April, but as a devotee to hot cross buns and chocolate eggs, I’m already in full Easter swing - probably because next week marks the festival of Ostara and the spring equinox. In folklore, the hare is associated with Easter and Ostara - a shapeshifting creature of renewal and transformation, and it’s amazing how quickly the sight of sunshine and clear skies can transform our mood after the grey winter months.
Ostara invites us to take notice of every new leaf and blossom emerging, every bird that drifts through the sky with a nesting twig held lovingly in its beak. I’m currently enjoying Lev Parikian’s upcoming book Taking Flight, all about the magic of aviation in the natural world, and every day I look out at the kites and corvids circling over my house, enviously far from the chaos of life on the earth’s surface. The return of spring lifts our spirits as it does these birds - spurring them to paint over the last, monochromatic days of winter with songs and fresh feathers in the brightening sun.