Well what can you expect from a holiday that has no fixed date; in fact bases the date of the holiday as the first Sunday following the full moon after the Spring Equinox? This can vary from mid-March to mid-April in the current calendar. We sometimes forget that the Resurrection happened when we had an earlier calendar. I find the whole subject of calendars interesting. One of my favorite jokes deals with the fact that this year marks the 5684th year of the Jewish calendar and the 4721st year of the Chinese calendar. Which means there were 973 years when the Jews had to do without Chinese takeout.
But I digress.
When I finally remembered that Easter was coming I found myself humming and even singing some of the Irvine Berlin tunes from Easter Parade, the 1948 film starring Judy Garland and Fred Astaire. The image of the top hat, bonnet, and actual parade down the Manhattan streets reminded me of my youth, when we all had something new to wear for Easter. At brunch this year I realized that, although we all were finely dressed, it was not the occasion for apparel that it was when I was young. That got me wondering why.
|Easter Parade - 1900|
The custom of new clothes for Easter goes back a long ways, somehow tied to the Resurrection itself, with white or a bright Pastel being the predominant choice of color. The New York Parade, which began as an event where church-goers would travel from church to church to see the garlands of flowers marking the holiday, dressed in the latest fashion, became a popular ritual near the turn of the last century, with the less fortunate gathering on the curbs to see what the wealthy were wearing.
In my case it was an occasion to buy something new and nice to wear when we shed our winter overcoats as spring emerged from the Iowa winter. Mary remembers pretty much the same. So perhaps it is that we have no serious change of clothes in our California climate. Or maybe it is that we have become jaded to anything new, since we buy clothes more or less from need rather than from choice, choosing from a change in style or size rather than from occasion.
|Easter Parade - 2007|
In some ways I think that is a shame. Dressing for Easter made the celebration more special somehow. And dressing up with new clothes was just one of the traditions. There was the Easter meal: ham when I was growing up, later lamb and now, with at least one of my relatives, traditional turkey. Hunting for the baskets, of course, and coloring eggs (how else would you know which basket was yours?)
But less and less the parade.
In 2007 there were close to 50,000 spectators in New York. This year less than 7,000. Whether it is less envy of the wealthy, greater variance in class distinction, younger money, or a desire for anonymity of the privileged class: something has changed the dynamic.
Still and all, the songs from the movie are ageless.
In my next post I’ll revisit a longtime topic of interest, since it seems to be getting a lot of recent press. Come visit for a current look at Oral Cancer.