You can’t really get into the history of Ostara without talking about the history of Easter.
And you can’t talk about either one without going over what came first: Vernal (Spring) Equinox. “Equinox” is Latin for “equal night.” This year the equinox falls on March 20th. Click this link to find out what exact time it will occur where you are! It’s even said that you can stand a raw egg on its end during the equinox. This site says otherwise.
On to Wikipedia:
Germanic pagans dedicate the holiday to their fertility goddess Ostara (the eastern star). She is notably associated with the fecund symbols of the hare and egg. Her teutonic name may be etymological ancestor of the words east and Easter.
Spring equinox is a time for fertility and sowing seeds, and so nature’s fertility goes a little crazy. In medieval societies in Europe, the March hare was viewed as a major fertility symbol — this is a species of rabbit that is nocturnal most of the year, but in March when mating season begins, there are bunnies everywhere all day long. The female of the species is superfecund and can conceive a second litter while still pregnant with a first. As if that wasn’t enough, the males tend to get frustrated when rebuffed by their mates, and bounce around erratically when discouraged. Thus, “mad as a March hare.”
Other spring celebrations:
In ancient Rome, the followers of Cybele believed that their goddess had a consort who was born via a virgin birth. His name was Attis, and he died and was resurrected each year during the time of the vernal equinox on the Julian Calendar (between March 22 and March 25). Around the same time, the Germanic tribes honored a lunar goddess known as Ostara, who mated with a fertility god around this time of year, and then gave birth nine months later – at Yule.
The indigenous Mayan people in Central American have celebrated a spring equinox festival for ten centuries. As the sun sets on the day of the equinox on the great ceremonial pyramid, El Castillo, Mexico, its “western face…is bathed in the late afternoon sunlight. The lengthening shadows appear to run from the top of the pyramid’s northern staircase to the bottom, giving the illusion of a diamond-backed snake in descent.” This has been called “The Return of the Sun Serpent” since ancient times.
According to the Venerable Bede, Eostre was the Saxon version of the Germanic goddess Ostara. Her feast day was held on the full moon following the vernal equinox — almost the identical calculation as for the Christian Easter in the west. There is very little documented evidence to prove this, but one popular legend is that Eostre found a bird, wounded, on the ground late in winter. To save its life, she transformed it into a hare. But “the transformation was not a complete one. The bird took the appearance of a hare but retained the ability to lay eggs…the hare would decorate these eggs and leave them as gifts to Eostre.”
Of course, the Christian holiday of Easter occurs around the same time and carries on with the theme of rebirth and rejuvination. It represents the resurrection of Jesus and is celebrated on the first Sunday after the full moon following the equinox. Sounds like a vaguely pagan thing, timing a festival based on the moon!
So there you have a bit of history regarding this upcoming festival!