My mom, a devout Christian, wanted to make sure her children were acquainted with the tenets of Christianity, so she sent us to Sunday School and church. In Sunday school we learned that Easter* was the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. However, Easter (like Christmas) was a time we kids focused more on new clothes and goodies than we did on the religious significance of the holiday. We were really excited about picking out and wearing our new Easter frocks and also excited about what others would wear.
On Easter Sunday our mom got to church early in order to get a seat and save seats for us to join her after Sunday school. Easter was one of the few Sundays during the year that the church overflowed with so many attendees that extra chairs had to be set up. As we sat next to our mom, my sister and I stared at the woman seated in front of us. The woman had on a hat that was unsettling. She had probably decorated it herself. The hat was made of straw and shaped like a cowboy hat. Several bands of ribbons in different colors were wrapped around the crown of the hat, with extra lengths of the ribbons hanging down in back. The ribbons had baby chick, rabbit or flower designs printed on them. Fastened on the brim of the hat were artificial flowers and tiny stuffed baby chicks and rabbits. To make matters worse, the woman had fastened a little chick on the end of each band that hung down so that every time she moved her head, the chicks bobbed up and down.
“In your Easter bonnet, with all the frills upon it, you’ll be the grandest lady in the Easter Parade…” (Irving Berlin)
My sister and I would look at the hat and the animated chicks, look at each other, then look at our mom. Our mom would give us one of those you-better-behave-yourselves look, so we dared not laugh or touch the chicks. Need I say that my sister and I did not focus much on the church service or anyone else until it was time for the collection, when worshippers would march downfront. We temporarily lost interest in the woman’s hat. This was the Easter parade for which we had waited! We would now see what others wore.
“Here comes Peter Cottontail Hoppin’ down the bunny trail Hippity hoppity
HAPPY EASTER DAY!” (Steve Nelson and Jack Rollins)
*Easter – An annual Christian festival, originally occurring at the same time as the pagan festival commemorating Eastre, the goddess of offspring and springtime. Eastre’s favorite animal was the rabbit, which symbolized new life during the spring season (the Easter bunny). The egg symbolized rebirth (the Easter egg).
HAPPY PASSOVER to our Jewish friends!