Well, it's official. Hell has frozen over. To my surprise, my local newspaper printed my "letter to the editor" about the pagan origins of Easter. I'm pleasantly surprised because they have a decidedly conservative bent. Apparently there are some freethinkers on staff, lol! Here's my letter:
I noticed an article on Easter weekend speculated as to the origins of the word Easter. The name Easter originated with the pagan goddess of spring known as Ostara or Eostre, who was represented with fertile rabbits at her feet. He name was derived from the ancient word for spring: eastre.
Most pagan religions in the Mediterranean area had a major seasonal day of religious celebration around the spring equinox. Cybele, the Phyrgian fertility goddess, had a fictional consort named Attis, the god of ever-reviving vegetation. He was believed to have been born via a virgin birth and to have died and been resurrected annually between March 22 and March 25.
Wherever Christian worship of Jesus and pagan worship of Attis were active in the same geographical area in ancient times, Christians celebrated the death and resurrection of Jesus on the same date, resulting in quarrels over whose god was the true prototype and whose was the imitation.
Many religious historians believe that the death and resurrection legends were first associated with Attis, many centuries before the birth of Jesus. They were simply grafted onto stories of Jesus' life in order to make Christian theology more acceptable to pagans.