Ôstara is the forerunner of Easter and was the pagan Germanic festival that celebrated the resurrection of the god-powers, the re-awakening of the Earth and Nature. Ôstara’s springtime festival gave its name to a month Ôstar-mânôth or Ôst(a)rûn and to the Christian feast of Easter that displaced it.
Life became brighter and more joyful after Ôstara, for Ôstara signified a NEW DAWN and a NEW DAY.
The meaning of the name Ôstara is connected with DAWN and the festival was an example of the Dawn goddess becoming attached to a spring festival, and a much more ancient NEW YEAR rite.
Ôstara’s appearance on the first day of spring symbolized a new birth, dawn being born and reborn, never dying. Thus the NEW DAWN of spring represented the god nature of being “ever youthful and IMMORTAL.”
The most obvious characteristic of dawn is that she gives NEW LIGHT. This imagery of Ôstara is very similar, if not identical to the Zoroastrian springtime new-year tradition, both going back to the ancient Aryan era.
Many Indo-European peoples had festivities to celebrate the beginning of spring, the time when the sun began to shine warmer and brighter after the cold winter months.
For example the Vedic Agni-stoma, the springtime festival that began the year, opened with songs to DAWN, and this led Alfred Hillebrandt to argue that Ušas was especially a goddess of New Year.
The custom of getting up at first dawn of the spring, to greet the NEW LIGHT is widely attested among ancient Aryans and especially among the Zoroastrians.
The Zoroastrian term for the new-year Nauv-rûz refers to the first new light of the new dawn/day after the vernal equinox. (Avestan term would have been nava raôca, Compare with Latin lucere “Light.”)
Vernal equinox is mentioned numerous times in the Avesta. The Avestan term for vernal equinox is “hamas.path. maiðya” or “hamaß.path.maiðya” and refers to the moment when the center/middle position (maiðya ) of the Sun is in the same/equal (hamaß) position/passage/path (Avestan Path) as the celestial equator.
The term is specific to the moment when such a passage happens and when the celestial points/paths of intersection are at an equal/same length from each other.
In the Avestan lore, each Vernal Equinox foretells the coming of the everlasting spring of the Immortals.
The first NEW LIGHT of the vernal equinox signifies the splendid remaking, the fresh, vigorous rebirth of the pristine existence (See Yasna 28.11, 3rd rhymed verse line.)
This celebration of the IMMORTAL DAWN, the brilliant rising up of Immortal god beings/powers and the future god men is called frašö-kart in the poetic gathas.
The auspicious moment of the NEW DAWN of the vernal equinox heralds a period of growth, when nature is reborn and swells with life-giving saps.
The Avestan word frašö refers to the reinvigorating nectars of spring and the eternal power of regeneration/rebirth of the gods. Frašö-kart is a brilliant, splendid new age of Immortals and god-men.
Let us celebrate the new-year in spring, with the splendid dawn of Immortals, the rejuvenation of the earth and the rising of the god-powers.
This is a very informative article. I would like to know if someone can still be a Zoroastrian if not born as one. Where are the places Zoroastrians celebrate this festival?