Easter is a Christian holiday that coincides with the beginning of Spring. Many of the customs and traditions of Easter symbolize the new life that is emerging following Winter. And I don't know about you, but I'm ready for some new life following this long dreary Winter season. But, back to my point about Easter.
Ladies and girls used to don decorative hats to wear with their new Easter finery to the church service. This is still done today, just not as often. The original Easter head accessory wasn't a bonnet, but women would celebrate the arrival of Spring by decorating their heads with wreaths of fresh flowers and leaves. This was to symbolize the cycle of the seasons and the coming of Spring.
Later on in history, you will find the "Sunday of Joy" which is the Easter after the end of the Civil War. On this Easter Sunday the women and their daughters traded in their dark, mourning clothes and veils for pastel colors and fresh Spring flowers. They adorned their hats and bonnets with ribbons and blooming flowers.
New York's Easter Parade began in the 1870's, after attending the church service, women would then parade down 5th Avenue, proudly showing off their new Spring clothing and Easter Bonnets. With each passing year, the hats of the Easter paraders would become larger and more creatively decorated. Think about hats that include live bird nests, pets, and whole flower gardens!
Today, Easter hats are not seen as often at the church service, though they still can be found, mostly on well dressed little girls. But, I say, in the midst of hatching eggs, baby lambs being born, and budding flowers and trees, why not don an Easter bonnet to symbolize the new life, warm weather and religious celebration. Most of the Easter hats that can be found today are typically light weight, straw hats, decorated with ribbons, lace, and artificial flowers. Just a small shell in comparison to what these hats used to be. Here are some grand examples of Easter bonnets of the past.