The “bonnet” itself refers to a variety of hat designs which traditionally have no brim. The house bonnet worn by women in the 1700’s had a tie under the chin and stood proud of the forehead. Designs changed largely to accommodate increasingly complicated hair fashions and some even used cane or whale boneas stiffening. The ‘funnel’ type bonnet which stood out in front of the face was known as an ‘invisible’ in France and was to secure privacy for the the wearer.
The tradition of wearing an Easter bonnet has now somewhat declined. However, the roots of this tradition are to be found in the 16th century in the UK. As with many traditions the changing of the seasons plays a part along with religion. Easter, falling in spring, also foretold of the new warmer seasons to follow and it became a practice to wear new clothes at Easter in recognition of this. There are a number of writings of this period that refer to this practice, most notably “Did’st thou not fall out with a Tailor for wearing his new Doublet before Easter?” (Shakespeare.) The religious view of this refers to the baptism and wearing of white that was allied to the changing season and gave belief of a new start.
So this was the context in which the wearing of an Easter bonnet was set, time to bring out new clothes and to attend Easter sevices in all new finery. The 19th century saw the hight of popularity for this tradition. It was revived again after the 1933 Irving Berlin song “Easter Parade”, becoming more popular after the release of the film in 1948 of the same name staring Judy Garland and Fred Astaire. The Easter Parade refered to in the song started in New York in 1870.
Today Easter bonnets are mostly worn by children and are usually white with a pastel colored satin ribbon, often futher decorated with flowers or other springtime favours. Seemingly, the brim can now be optional on a bonnet. Easter bonnets would make a lovely addition to your dolls house and we have several 1:12th scale crochet patterns suitable for ‘dressing up’ to form an Easter bonnet – click on either photo for more details.