It is rare today to see women wearing fancy hats to church, but when I was growing up, it was quite a common site and included my mother and me. It brings to mind Irving Berlin’s song, “Easter Parade.”
As Easter Sunday approaches, I am reminded of the fashion side of that special day as it occurred in our household.
For most women, Easter Sunday was an occasion to buy a new outfit, including a frilly hat, referred to as an Easter bonnet, new shoes, and a new pair of white gloves. My mother followed that tradition to a point. Where she varied was that she would not let us wear our new outfit on Easter Sunday for the first time. She made us wear it on Palm Sunday, the Sunday before. We could wear it again on Easter, but that could not be the first time. Her reasoning was simple. She wanted us to focus on the meaning of Easter and not on our new clothes.
I have to admit that in my childish understanding, I wish my mother didn’t have that rule. I wanted to wear my new clothes on Easter Sunday for the first time like everyone else so I would feel special. Wearing them the week before took a little of the shine out of them. I still remember trying to button those tiny pearl buttons on my new white gloves. I also remember how my mother would use Vaseline petroleum jelly to shine my patent leather Mary Janes if I scuffed them up. My mother had such good taste in clothes, and she extended that to clothes she bought for me.
By the time my daughter was growing up, Easter bonnets were already on their way out, and no one wore little white gloves anymore. I see young people today wearing very casual clothes on Easter morning, some even in jeans. I’m just happy to see them in church, no matter what they’re wearing. I guess they learned the lesson my mother was trying to teach me.