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Passtara: Re-Envisioning Passover and Ostara Traditions

Having a child forces you to think about what was, what you wish had been, what was that was wonderful and...make new traditions! Never having been raised Jewish, I don't have much knowledge of the faith so I've had to do my learning in my adult years, on the fly.

I was invited to my friend's Passover celebration for Easter weekend. I sketched out a few basic new traditions that my daughter will really be able to enjoy, despite what she ends up experiencing for Ostara and learning (or not) about Passover:

- When attending a Seder, the host should be given one golden egg with flowers in it. I included flowers from our yard including borage (the bees love it) and jasmine. My gift to our host for having us in her home and blessings for the rest of the year.

- The menu should include celebratory foods for Ostara as well as Passover. In this case, I avoided the grains I needed to with an unbaked dessert called Pashka- which focuses on dairy for the Pagan spring equinox- which was several weeks ago, actually. I decorated it with daisy chocolate mints and borage flowers from my garden, as well as pistachios. Inside the cheeses are a combination of quark and ricotta with fresh lemon, pistachio and dried bing cherries. I also chose Pashka because it did a nice job of honoring my Russian heritage and my cat, who is Pasha (just add the "k" and you're good to go).

Sure enough, in our local gourmet store Market Hall, they had their own Pashka for sale, along with Kulich, a Russian easter bread not too far afield from Hot Cross Buns...but minus the cross, the annoying candied fruits and hints it anise? I really want to like Hot Cross Buns and just never have. I try every year. Sigh.

- I noted several really wonderful parts of the Seder and their similarities to those "tag along" traditions that even the Romans haven't been able to wipe away after this long.

Because Ostara is about the Goddess Eostre (the Dawn Goddess) from the Germanic tradition, I really wanted to color Easter eggs. Eggs and bunnies are Eostre's symbols of fertility that are still part of Christian Easter celebrations today. Where the egg thing derives from is the Roman Catholics who worked very hard to make Christian beliefs palatable to the once Pagan masses. So I colored a dozen. A few broke, but especially attractive were the ones I boiled in onion and cabbage skins, water and vinegar, without the use of Paas pre-fab egg dyes. Ahh Paas.

We didn't touch on all parts of the Haggadah, but I have always enjoyed Karpas because it feels very Pagan to me. It is the ritual of honoring the earth and the physical supports around us, the eating of parsley dipped in salt water. Karpas was defined by our Haggadah as: The moisture of birth. The pain of birth. The tears at new beginnings.

We are grateful for every tear of joy we experience every day as new parents. There is nothing like it in life.

My daughter sat quiet and listened interestedly to the singing those in the group did (having been raised in the faith) during the first parts of the Seder. She especially liked Urehatz, the washing of hands. I asked for my back pain to be washed away and blessed be, the wine granted my wish for the evening. :)

I found the tradition of hiding and inviting others at the Seder to "seek" the Afikomen an interesting coincidence with the hunting for eggs.

Our homework as a group for next year is to each choose a part of the Seder to modernize or give our own personal twist to. I look forward to that.

I had to come back and add to this post- a very cute and modern day Haggadah you really shouldn't miss.

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