Tuesday, February 21, 2017

What Ever Happened to the Easter Bonnet?

In your Easter bonnet, with all the frills upon it,
You'll be the grandest lady in the Easter Parade.
It was just as much a fixture of Easter as deviled eggs, and new shoes for Easter services. The Easter bonnet was even so much of a fixture of the holiday that it had it's own song. Where ever did it go?
So why new hats at Easter?
Well the tradition appears to have origins in the Christian custom of Easter being the time for new clothes after the fasting of Lent, and the Church-going notion of wearing your "Sunday Best", meaning that at Easter your best had to be "better than best" to celebrate the resurrection of Christ.
The custom of wearing hats at Easter is also tied to the American tradition of The Easter Parade, which emerged in the 1870s after the end of the Civil War. People were stepping out with positivism in their lives, and women would stream out of the churches following the Easter service dressed up in their best, and often new clothes, including that ever important bonnet.
The 1948 film "Easter Parade" starring Fred Astaire and Judy Garland, and the music of Irving Berlin really immortalised the practice of wearing Easter Bonnets, with the popular song "Easter Parade" which was originally written in 1933 and became one of the most popular songs about Easter.
Although Bonnets started out as a practical form of head wear they became more and more elaborate as the 19th Century progressed, and its clear that as the tradition of the Easter parade grew in popularity, the bonnets that accompanied them became more and more outlandish and much less bonnet-like! At the depths of the Great Depression a new hat at Easter, or a refurbished old one, was a simple luxury.
Now, in a more casual society, Easter Bonnets are becoming harder to find, as fewer and fewer women bother with the tradition. Modern Easter bonnets for children are usually white wide-brimmed hats with a pastel colored satin ribbon around it and tied in a bow. It may also have flowers or other springtime motifs on top, and may match a special dress picked out for the occasion.
Poor Robin, an 18th-century English almanac maker, offered the verse
At Easter let your clothes be new
Or else be sure you will it rue.
Is there a resurgence of the Easter Bonnet?
Karen Grigsby Bates, on NPR's Code Switch team said... There is often, for those of us who are a certain age, the Easter outfit. You know, your shiny patent leather shoes and your dress with too many crinolines underneath it and - even little kids had hats. I had Easter hats when I was little.
Today many women still continue this tradition using Easter as a time to show off the new, members of the Royal Family especially like to carry on this tradition!
"For a while, Easter bonnets sort of fell out of vogue —it became more of a day for the children — but last year and this year, I've seen the resurgence of that tradition," says Song, who owns Detroit-based Mr. Song Millinery.
"I think there has been in the last year more presence of hats in magazines, and on TV, and I believe that these leave an impression on people. The fashion industry had disregarded this whole sector of fashion. But everybody just woke up to the fact that there's that head that we have to deal with all the time. … And anybody who wears hats, they'll tell you it completes an outfit."
So, happily there may be hope that the lovable Easter Bonnet will be making an appearance for many springtime's to come. Do you have yours?