Yesterday was the Spring Equinox in Australia and we celebrated Eostar for the first time, at this time. We left the culturally celebrated Christian Easter behind this year, and I began to delve into the more ancient origins of celebrating the dawn of new growth that is bursting forth around us at Spring Equinox. This time when there is equal length of day and night reinforced for me the importance of balance in my life and the life I share with my family, of finding time and space to be free, impulsive, and imaginative, along with time to be organised, productive, and busy. I also spoke to the children about how at this time of year the earth is being born again and all around us we can see the blooming flowers, colourful blossoms, emerging buds and growth on the fruit trees, bumble bees visiting the first flowers, the swallows returning and building their nests, and in the fields lambs and calves frolicking as we drive past in our car. I spoke of the lengthening days, and we thought about things in our lives that we would like to see grow and develop over the year. We all agreed that we hope for a fruitful and productive vege garden, Elki particularly wishing for a big tomato crop, and Anusha for lots of radishes for salad.
At the beginning of the month we decorated our nature table for Spring and I added a few more items to it in the lead up to the equinox. I also decided to make an Eostar egg tree with the children this year. As we are vegan the Eostar egg to us is truly a symbol of new life and growth and I’ve always thought the egg as a beautiful image to remind us of the magic and wonder of Spring. I wanted to incorporate egg decorating (without using real eggs) into our Eostar, so together we made eggs from salt dough. I used a recipe that is intended for baking and in order that the eggs were not too thick and solid we formed the salt dough around a core of scrunched up aluminium foil.
Before putting them in the oven we poked tooth picks through the tops of our eggs (but not too close to the top) to make holes for hanging the eggs on the tree. After making several eggs each we also made some springtime garden critters with the left over dough and then I baked them all in a low oven until they were really hard, let them cool, and pulled out the toothpicks from the eggs. The day before Eostar the children and I firstly decorated our eggs with a base coat of bright paint. We hung them up to dry by poking paper clips through the holes at the top.
We also painted our little garden friends.
To add to our eggs I got out some flowers that we had dried from Spring last year,
and we finished our eggs by gluing on flowers and adding designs with paint. Later Scott found me a sturdy gum tree branch for our Eostar tree and I planted it in a bucket, stablising it with rocks, and then added some colours to the branches by wrapping them with some of my cotton yarn scraps. I then hung our dry Eostar eggs on the tree by threading nylon wire through the holes with a large needle.
And we placed our garden critters around the base of the tree, they seem very happy there! Another activity I did with the children was making Eostar egg crowns from paper plates, coloured with pastels and pencils. I started mine first so I could check the size after cutting around the eggs.
Then the children got started on theirs.
These were really simple and fun to make and would be easy to adapt to many different celebrations. We also baked and decorated Eostar biscuits together. Scott made some piping bags from baking paper which Elki and he made some great designs with, but they were a bit hard for Anusha to use so we stuck to simply spreading the icing on with a knife
This year I thought that it would be really nice, fun, and a lot cheaper if we made all our chocolates. We knew the Eostar rabbit would be visiting so Scott and I made some vegan Eostar eggs, filled with chocolate ganache (when the children were in bed). And we also made some chocolates with the children, including chocolate and almond clusters, chocolate, coconut, and apricot balls, and chocolate shapes using cookie cutters, which when set I wrapped in aluminium foil and hid them for the children with the chocolate eggs hid by the Eostar rabbit. This added to the fun of the hunt for the children and meant I didn’t have to be too secretive about hiding the eggs!
We have always had an egg hunt for Easter. This year I wanted to incorporate this into a ritual to thank mother earth, the Spring goddess and god, the Eostar rabbit, and to share with them the appreciation for earth’s treasures. I also set up an Eostar altar in the garden, an idea I got from Circle Round. I made a nest from a basket filled with leaves and in this placed some of the chocolate we made. The children were able to take a chocolate from Eostar’s nest but in return they offered her one of the chocolates they had found. I also told them they could whisper to Eostar something they would like to come to birth this year. Next to the nest I also placed a rock and on this stood a chocolate offering for the Eostar rabbit.
We had a lovely time sharing Eostar this year. The meaning of the celebration came to life with the Spring equinox, and the stirrings of Spring around us. I shared some springtime tales with the children, including the myth of Demeter and Persephone, and a lovely poem called The Magic Piper by E.L. Marsh. I was surprised that this was the first time that our Easter/Eostar was a rainy day, and remembered that usually we would be celebrating it in Autumn, and that Spring is usually a wet time of year here in Tasmania. The rain was not a hindrance though and added to the meaningfulness of our day celebrating fresh growth, change, and fertility. Eostar blessings!