Easter Bonnets and Parades

Did you wear a new hat to church yesterday?

No?

I’m not surprised. There wasn’t a single Easter bonnet at my church yesterday either.

The tradition seems to have all but disappeared. However, I’m guessing many of us have pictures like this buried in old photo albums.Easter bonnets-2

For years, my two siblings and I posed in our Easter finery after Sunday lunch.

Once upon a time, it was very important to have not only a new bonnet, but a new dress for Easter Sunday too.

Why?

It’s said the early church converts wore white garments on Sunday to identify themselves with Christ. The white symbolized purity and newness of life and became a powerful and tangible way to signify the life-altering spiritual transformation that had taken place.

In that tradition, we wore new outfits to church on Easter. Often, at least in our family, that new dress was our single Sunday dress and only worn to church.

The popularity of wearing an Easter bonnet is attributed to Irving Berlin’s song titled In Your Easter Bonnet from the 1948 movie Easter Parade

220px-Easter_Parade_posterYes, Virginia, there was truly an Easter parade in New York City from St. Patrick’s Cathedral down Fifth Avenue.

The event began spontaneously in the 1870s and increased in popularity through the 1950s. An after-church cultural event primarily for the well-to-do who, decked out in new and fashionable clothing, strolled from their own church to others to see and be seen.765px-EasterParade1900

The official parade’s popularity declined significantly as people came to view the frolic in finery as an ostentatious display of wealth and beauty. Although if you happen to be on Fifth Avenue on Easter Sunday next year, you’d see some Easter parade strollers.

Until then, enjoy this clip from the movie as Judy Garland and Fred Astaire prepare to walk down The Avenue.

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