Modern-day Easter is a blending of two traditions: one Judeo-Christian and the other Pagan. Both Christians and Pagans have death and resurrection themes on or after the Spring Equinox. Both Neopagans and Christians continue to celebrate religious rituals in the present day. Wiccans and other Neopagans hold their celebrations on the day or eve of the equinox. Christians wait until after the next full moon.
The Venerable Bede, (672-735 CE.) a Christian scholar, first asserted in his book De Ratione Temporum that Easter was named after Eostre (a.k.a. Eastre). She was the Great Mother Goddess of the Saxon people in Northern Europe. Similarly the Teutonic dawn goddess of fertility was known variously as Ostare, Ostara, Ostern, Eostra, Eostre, Eostur, Eastra, Eastur, Austron and Ausos." Her name was derived from the ancient word for spring: "eastre."
Many, perhaps most, Pagan religions in the Mediterranean area had a major seasonal day of religious celebration at or following the Spring Equinox. Around 200 B.C.E., mystery cults began to appear in Rome just as they had earlier in Greece. Most notable was the Cybele cult, centered on Vatican hill. Cybele was the Phrygian fertility goddess. Associated with the Cybele cult was worship of her lover, Attis (similar to the older demigods Tammuz, Osiris, Dionysus, and Orpheus). Attis was the god of ever-reviving vegetation. Born of a virgin, he died and was reborn annually. The spring festival March 22 to 25, began as a day of blood on Black Friday and culminated after three days in a day of rejoicing over the resurrection.
Christian worship of Jesus and Pagan worship of Attis were active in the same geographical area in ancient times, Christians "used to celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus on the same date; and pagans and Christians used to quarrel bitterly about which of their gods was the true prototype and which 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. Ancient Christians had an alternate explanation: they claimed that Satan had created counterfeit deities in advance of the coming of Christ in order to confuse humanity.
For more information see: www.religioustolerance.org/easter.htm