Put on your Easter Bonnet for the Easter Parade

By April 7, 2009 In the News No Comments

Make sure there are bows and frills upon it, so your Easter bonnet will fit into the tradition. As long as I can remember, people have been dressing up for Easter Sunday. This special day holds traditions such as attending church on Sunday dressed in your finest attire. In my youth, after church the parade was the festivity of the season. A feast followed the parade with lots of relatives coming to visit. I can still smell all that good food and the smells of the fancy new clothes we bought just for the occasion.

Photo by: Toast to Life (Flickr)

Photo by: Toast to Life (Flickr)

Of course, children might have a difference of opinion here. In their minds, I’m sure the Easter bunny and baskets filled with fruits and candies is far more important on their list of special Easter events. For those lucky enough to have gone on an Easter egg hunt, it would be tough to choose between the two.

History has seen some of the grandest to some of the simplest of Easter parades. I always loved the New York parades because any stream of people and floats celebrating among the backdrop of New York City’s grand buildings is amazing to see. I don’t know how long parades for Easter have taken place in America, but I found a photo from New York in 1900.

Parades in New York on Fifth Avenue at Easter time are definitely an historic event, though not the oldest parades recorded. Yet, they are an icon to the persona that is America. I think of Fifth Avenue Easter parades as the center of our nation’s celebrations. The charm and nostalgia of annual parades charges my sentimentality. You can almost touch your grandparents in this photo.


Fifth Avenue on Easter Sunday in New York City.  Photo Credit:  Photographer Unknown

Year after year, thousands of people throng to this major city in America to show off their Easter best dress and their original Easter bonnets. It is an American tradition, to be sure. Do you wear an Easter bonnet? Or have you ever? My family spent weeks deciding on color and style for our Easter bonnets every year. We picked out the hats before we picked our dresses.

So what was the earliest Easter parade, do you think? I did some research and discovered what I already thought was true. Easter is a Christian based tradition, even though many other customs have evolved from it that have little or nothing to do with its origin. You probably already knew that but just in case you don’t know the answer, I’m going to share it with you.

Historically, parades for Easter date back in origin to the triumphal entry of Jesus  into Jerusalem. I’m not promoting any particular religion, but from an historical perspective this event was possibly one of the most emotionally charged parades of all time. When Jesus entered the city, the people considered this a victory for the King they believed would set them free from slavery. The people rejoiced over a physical king, not realizing that Christ taught His Kingdom was not of this world.  As you know though, the people still rejoiced and they had reason.


Photo Credit: Artist Meister der Palastkapelle in Palermo

You probably know that Jesus Christ did not wear an Easter bonnet. I can tell you that the earliest Easter parade is similar in sentiment and celebration of purpose but has little resemblance to today. So how do you think all this fancy dressing, and wearing colorful decorative hats and Easter egg hunts all started anyway?

If you look through history, you will find the answers. Our ancestors, yours and mine, probably came from various different old world countries. Well, you and I can each thank our parents or grand parents or our great grandparents for bringing bits of tradition and customs from the old country where their families lived to the new world, America. For this nation, you know that means a melting pot of customs evolved into what is the Easter celebrations of today.

I enjoy the holiday regardless how it came to be. It brings people together to rejoice, to dance, to sing and celebrate. The costumes are fantastically creative and so much fun to see. The colors of Easter are bright and fresh like the spring that follows. So get your flowers and ribbons and lace ready and decorate your Easter hat today. It’s right around the corner.

Are you planning to strut your Easter outfit in the Fifth Avenue New York Easter parade?