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The bacchanalian holiday celebrating all things green and Irish is just around the corner. But did you know that St. Patrick’s Day traces its origins to an ancient rite of spring known as Ostara? Long before there was green beer, Leprechauns with pots of gold and crockpots full of corned beef, ancient peoples paused in mid-March to celebrate the coming spring.
Because the ancient Celts passed on their traditions, histories and stories orally, little is known of the ways that the Celts honored the passing of the seasons. But the coming of spring is a reason to celebrate and our penchant to party this time of year may well be a rite of spring going back thousands of years.
If you’re tired of green beer and cabbage, here are five tips to help you connect with the ancient roots of Ostara and celebrate the coming Spring the way our ancestors might have:
1. Sweep and Rake: Get out your broom and sweep away the leaves and dust blown in by the winter winds. Rake up the old leaves mushed onto the grass by the snow. Clear away the dead things left from fall and winter to make room for the new growth of spring.
2. Tend Your Garden: Roll up your sleeves, grab your spade, and get your hands dirty. Even if your garden is a high-rise patio, tend to the plants in your part of the world. Snip the dead blooms, prune, feed, water and show the green things in your world some love.
3. Take a Hike: Preferably with your sweetie. Enjoy a stroll through the neighborhood park or hike into the forest or desert near you. Take in the signs of the change from cold, dead and dreary to warm, blooming and colorful. Who knows, maybe the time together in the great outdoors will kindle the fires of romance.
4. Create a Feast of the Season: Make an outing to a local farmer’s market or, if there isn’t such a market near you, check out the produce at your neighborhood grocery. What’s in season? What’s fresh? Collect your bounty of the season and cook a Spring Feast.
5. Party! Share that feast that you lovingly prepared with your friends and family. If it’s warm enough, take the feast outside and party in your garden. End your evening with a fire to warm the hearts of your guests. It doesn’t have to be a bonfire. Build your fire in a fire pit, chiminea or fireplace. Or if none of those options are available to you, light some candles. The warm glow of the fire’s embers call to mind the warmth of the coming season.