In Your Easter Bonnet

Irving Berlin –Easter Parade Lyrics
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.


There are Spring rituals with roots in the secular notion which give a nod to Earths fertility, new life and rebirth. Centuries before Irving Berlin penned the Easter Parade, wreaths of flowers and leaves were worn in maidens hair as adornment to celebrate the cycle of life and the seasons.  Christian Easter beliefs and customs evoke the promise of harmony with spiritual renewal and redemption. In years past after the fasting of lent we were excited to acknowledge the lighthearted and joyful elements of the celebration of re-birth by donning a new dress, white gloves, white shoes and an Easter bonnet, with all the frills upon it for Easter Sunday church service.  As can become with each generation the guidelines soften and a social dictate is no longer.  And that is the beauty of  nostalgic suggestion, if we can recollect a custom with joy then we can do our best to revive it!

Easter Bonnets

The custom of wearing hats at Easter is tied to the American tradition of The Easter Parade. After the end of the Civil War, in the 1870’s, Americans were yearning for positivity. The first Eater Parade was the Fifth Avenue Parade in New York in 1870.  This was not an organized affair but organically came into being when the beautiful people came out of St Patricks Cathedral and surrounding churches and walked down 5th Avenue.  Each successive year it gained in popularity reaching a peak in the 1940s where it’s estimated a million people attended, it was a show of prosperity and frivolity.  The 1948 film “Easter Parade” starring Fred Astaire and Judy Garland, and the music of Irving Berlin really immortalized 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.


From ancient Pagan rituals  to the Orthodox Christian traditions the Easter Season is ripe with beautiful symbolism.

Christians believe that Easter originated from the Hebrew word “Pesach” meaning Passover.  Other historians believe the meaning comes from pre Christian times specifically from the ancient Norsemen’s word “Ostar” which means “season of new birth”.

Easter Sunrise Celebrations are carried out world wide in over 80 countries. Firecrackers in some are meant to scare off evil spirits and church bells in others are rung to represent the announcement of the new life that Spring brings

The Easter Egg is a symbol of fertility and immortality and Easter baskets are filled with colorfully dyed boiled eggs by none other than the Easter Bunny. The folklore of the Easter bunny came to the United States via German immigrants.  The rabbit’s well-known reproductive skills make him a natural Spring fertility symbol.  These days the only bunny we are interested in is solid chocolate!

The Easter Lilly originates from a bulb and as such some believe it is chosen as a symbol of life after death and others choose to see the shape of the bloom as representing the angel Gabriel’s horn.  Either are beautiful thoughts.

The appreciation of rituals, whether they are traditions of our religious community or family customs become a part of what defines us. The ripe symbolisms that we so delicately unwrap each season with such lovely predictability give us hope for the future as we pause in nostalgic admiration of the past.  Perhaps the near past as we recall dressing our own children on Easter Sunday morning and recall their giggles as they discovered a hidden colored egg and with their little chubby hand placed it gently into their Easter basket.  Or the long past as we reminisce on the comfort felt as we slipped our own chubby hand into the petal softness of a white kid glove and walked softly so as to not scuff our new and very stiff white paten leather shoes.  The scent of an Easter Lilly may evoke memories of a ride to Grandma’s house as we cradled the treasured and expected gift on our lap.  And that is a ritual – May you have many memories of and the imagination to create new.





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