Christmas and the Star of Bethlehem. - There is no historical evidence that Christ was born on December 25th. December 25th was officially adopted by Bishop Liberius of Rome in 354. December 25th occurs during the rainy season in the Holy Land, so it is highly unlikely that shepherds would be outside in their pastures. The Hayden Planetarium in New York recreated the heavens as they were in the time that Christ was allegedly born. Although nothing spectacular happened in the skies on the date of Christ's birth, the Planetarium went back to the year 6 B.C. On that date, there were three stars in close proximity which created a spectacularly bright beacon, which may account for the stories of the Star of Bethlehem. The most plausible reason that December 25 was chosen as a day to celebrate Christ's birth was that the Christian fathers were trying to compete with another growing religion, Mithraism - the worship of a sun god - whose holy day was also December 25.
Easter - The name "Easter' derives from Eostre, the Anglo-Saxon dawn goddess. She was traditionally honored at the beginning of spring. Easter wasn't celebrated in North America until after the Civil War when religious leaders decided that the country needed a holiday which stressed rebirth.