Easter Bonnets

miniature crochet hats
© F H Powell 2011

Although today this has often come to mean a hat decorated by a child and worn at Easter, the origins of the Easter Bonnet go a long way back into pagan times.

The Easter bonnet started life as a humble circlet of spring flowers and was used to celebrate the fact that spring had arrived. The circle as usual represented the never-ending cycle of the sun and the seasons.

Early Christians incorporated this idea into their new religion and Easter was seen as a good time for baptism into the faith, thus celebrating the person’s entry into Christianity and the rebirth of Christ. These newly baptised people would wear new white robes for a week and would parade around the countryside with a crucifix.

Spring Parades developed from this probably starting with parishioners moving from one church to another in their local area. The people would wear new clothes or hats (this has its origins in the late1600’s with the Restoration of the monarchy following the dark clothes worn throughout the Puritan times immediately after the English Civil War). Women would decorate their hats with flowers and wear bright colours.

By the end of the 19th Century this Spring Parade had turned into an Easter parade consisting of people showing off their outlandishly decorated hats. Although this idea has declined in more recent times, children will often make an Easter Bonnet at school, which is worn in a small parade for parents.