Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Easter Bonnets and Easter Eggs

The Culbertson Searchlight reported on March 25, 1910, that Easter customs have a long and colorful history. The idea that folks should wear something new is tied to the coming of spring and renewal of the fields. The custom of wearing something new evolved into the superstition that wearing a new item on Easter would insure good fortune in love affairs. Christian women often focused on hats as the new item. In times past, the Easter hat was the outward material expression of the joyous resurrection. “Of course,” said the Searchlight, “the connection between inner joyousness and the monstrosity that looks like an old wooden chopping bowl sprouting forth a truck garden may not be apparent to all.”  The great danger is that spring rains are notorious at this time of year. Many a woman has wept when the heavens poured forth on Easter morning and ruined the feathers and ribbons of the carefully chosen Easter bonnet.

This ad from the March 25, 1910, Daily Missoulian shows the styles of the time. Via Chronicling America.
After the Easter bonnet, colored eggs are the most familiar token of Easter. The custom of coloring eggs is much older than Christianity, and all ancient people including Romans, Egyptians, Jews, and Greeks used the egg as a symbol of universal life and renewal. Early Christians adopted it because the egg is the perfect symbol of resurrection. At first, eggs were only colored red to signify the blood of redemption. The Daily Missoulian on March 25, 1910, summed up the “modern” connection between Easter bonnets and eggs noting that the hen whose product is gaily colored contributes to the joy of Easter morning. She has not laid her egg in vain even if she has no chick to show for her trouble. However, some of the Easter hat decorations look as if they might have been hatched from Easter eggs.

P.S. Remember these delightful hats?

1 comment:

  1. "Wooden chopping bowl sprouting forth a truck garden" - brings to mind such a wonderful picture. Sure glad my Mom wasn't into those bonnets. We did however have a new Eastern bonnet when I was young. Usually straw.