Why is it called equinox?
On the equinox, night and day are nearly exactly the same length – 12 hours – all over the world. This is the reason it’s called an “equinox”, derived from Latin, meaning “equal night”. However, even if this is widely accepted, it isn’t entirely true. In reality equinoxes don’t have exactly 12 hours of daylight. The March equinox occurs the moment the sun crosses the celestial equator – the imaginary line in the sky above the Earth’s equator – from south to north. This happens either on March 19, 20 or 21 every year. On any other day of the year, the Earth’s axis tilts a little away from or towards the Sun. But on the two equinoxes, the Earth’s axis tilts neither away from nor towards the Sun. In the northern hemisphere the March equinox marks the start of spring and has long been celebrated as a time of rebirth. (from March Equinox, www.timeanddate.com)
Ostara is one of the names given for the celebration of the Spring (Vernal) Equinox, when day and night balance. Astronomically, the sun crosses the celestial equator at this time. The Vernal Equinox usually falls on March 20 or 21. The name Ostra is derived from the Teutonic and Anglo-Saxon lunar Goddess Eostre, goddess of spring and fertility. Her festival celebrated rebirth as she was believed to bring renewal and reawakening from the dead of winter. Her chief symbols were the rabbit (for fertility, and her worshipers often saw the image of a rabbit in the full moon), and the egg (representing the cosmic egg of creation). This is where the customs of the “Easter Eggs” and the “Easter Bunny” originated.