On this Sunday, where Christians go extra pompous and many of the stores are closed, here’s a little bit o’ trivia about the truth of where Easter began. Just as Christians used pagan celebrations at Solstice to overshadow it with celebrations of the birth of Christ (who is commonly known now to have actually been born in the summer), they also used pagan celebrations of springtime that had been in place for centuries to deem this their holiday…
These are excerpts from an article discussing the pagan roots of Easter:
Most of what people commonly associate with Easter is pagan in origin; the rest is commercial. Just as American culture secularized Christmas, it’s secularizing Easter.
The earliest reference we have to a similar holiday comes to us from Babylon, 2400 BCE. The city of Ur apparently had a celebration dedicated to the moon and the spring equinox which was held some time during our months of March or April. On the spring equinox Zoroastrians continue to celebrate “No Ruz,” the new day or New Year. This date is commemorated by the last remaining Zoroastrians and probably constitutes the oldest celebration in the history of the world.
Most cultures around the Mediterranean are believed to have had their own spring festivals: whereas in the north the vernal equinox is a time for planting, around the Mediterranean the vernal equinox is a time when the summer crops begin to sprout. This is an important sign of why it has always been a celebration of new life and a triumph of life over death.
As you might be able to tell, the name “Easter” was likely derived from Eostre, the name of the Anglo-Saxon lunar goddess, as was as the name for the female hormone estrogen. Eostre’s feast day was held on the first full moon following the vernal equinox — a similar calculation as is used for Easter among Western Christians. On this date the goddess Eostre is believed by her followers to mate with the solar god, conceiving a child who would be born 9 months later on Yule, the winter solstice which falls on December 21st.
Two of Eostre’s most important symbols were the hare (both because of its fertility and because ancient people saw a hare in the full moon) and the egg, which symbolized the growing possibility of new life. Each of these symbols continues to play an important role in modern celebrations of Easter. Curiously, they are also symbols which Christianity has not fully incorporated into its own mythology. Other symbols from other holidays have been given new Christian meanings, but attempts to do the same here have failed.
American Christians continue to generally celebrate Easter as a religious holiday, but public references to Easter almost never include any religious elements. Christians and non-Christians alike celebrate Easter in decidedly non-Christian ways: with chocolate and other forms of Easter candy, Easter eggs, Easter egg hunts, the Easter bunny, and so forth. Most cultural references to Easter include these elements, most of which are pagan in origin and all of which have become commercialized.
~ from an article on about.com