This year, some of the most outrageous hats adorned both men and women’s heads for the annual Easter Parade in New York City. The festive six hour walkabout down Fifth Avenue to St. Patrick’s Cathedral has occurred each year over the last century. But, the idea is no longer to walk to church in Easter finery to attend Mass as in the early years. The Easter Parade has become a sideline show to see who has created the most absurd and outlandish, or should I say creative, hat. While Easter Mass was being conducted in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, thousands milled about decked out in homemade 21st century headpieces.
What becomes of all these hats?
When Easter is over, where do the hats go? Do they gather dust in the closet until next year, or get dismantled to become another creation? The creators of the homemade hats say it is an expression of themselves, a fashion statement, and the most important element to complete an outfit.
The Tradition of Hats
Not everyone wore a hat this past Easter, but it used to be tradition. My mother always wore a hat in public – wouldn’t be caught without one. It completed her outfit, made her feel dressed up and acceptable. One of her favorites was her pheasant feather hat. Easter was her excuse to get a new hat, and she had many. After the Great Depression, a new hat for Easter or a refurbished one was a simple luxury. Growing up, I loved my Easter hats too.
Easter was once considered the highest holy day of the year for Christians, the day of Resurrection –with Christ Jesus raising from the dead supernaturally. Up until the 1960s, Easter Sunday was a 40-day ritual, complete with fasting on Fridays, attending Palm Sunday services, and putting together the perfect pastel outfit to go with one’s Easter hat. Wearing a hat to cover your head was once seen as a sign of submission.
The First Easter Hat
Jesus was given the first “Easter hat” – a crown of sorts. Made of the Jerusalem thorn bush, similar to the locust tree, it could grow spikes up to an inch long. A simple poke from the thorns allows the poison to cause skin rash, blistering, and eye irritation, as well as being very painful. Jesus bore that crown as the King of the Jews, a title he was given by the Romans. They mocked and ridiculed, spat upon him, and derided him. Christ submitted himself and allowed mankind to kill the God of the universe. He wore that “hat” willingly, and then traded it for something better – a crown of life. Raising from dead, he was the Victor over sin and death and everything else that troubles mankind. Why? He died so we could live. So we could have the crown of life too, just for the asking.
I think I would rather choose that type of Easter hat.