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Saturday, March 23, 2013

Easter Bonnets

The History of the Easter Bonnet

The Christian holiday of Easter coincides with the beginning of spring. The customs and traditions of Easter symbolize the new life that emerges following winter. In the midst of the hatching Easter eggs, baby lambs and budding flowers and trees, ladies used to don decorative hats to wear with their Easter dress to the church service. In recent years, however, more casual church services have decreased the popularity of the Easter hat.

Early Easter Headdress

The original Easter head accessory was not a bonnet or a hat. Before Easter was an official holiday, women would celebrate the arrival of spring by decorating head wreaths with fresh flowers. The circle of the wreath symbolized the earth's orbit around the sun as well as the cycle of the seasons.

Post Civil War

On Easter Sunday following the end of the Civil War, women and their daughters traded their dark, mourning veils for the pastel colors and fresh flowers of spring. They adorned their hats and bonnets with ribbons and blooming flowers.

New York

In the 1870's, a tradition emerged in New York City. On 5th Avenue, the social elite would attend church service, then parade down the street aferward to show off their Easter fashions. With each passing year, the hats of the Easter paraders would become larger and more creatively decorated. Spectacular head gear has included live bird nests, portable flower gardens and pets.

Easter Parade

By the late 1940's, the famous Easter Parade expanded out of 5th Avenue and extended from Madison Square to Central Park. The event was made into an American icon with the 1948 musical "The Easter Parade", written by Irving Berlin.
~ Easter Parade ~

In your easter bonnet,
with all the frills upon it,
You’ll be the grandest lady
in the easter parade.

I’ll be all in clover
and when they look you over,
I’ll be the proudest fellow
in the easter parade.

On the avenue, fifth avenue,
the photographers will snap us,
And you’ll find that
you’re in the rotogravure.

Oh, I could write a sonnet
about your easter bonnet,
And of the girl I’m taking
to the easter parade.


Modern Easter Hats

Today, Easter hats have become a holiday novelty and are not seen often at church services. Still, they can be found on the heads of fashionably conscience elderly ladies and well dressed little girls. The hats that remain on the scene are light weight, usually made of straw. They are decorated with ribbons, lace or artificial flowers.

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