Easter bonnets weren't just for the movies, though. When I was a child, Easter meant it was time to break out the new spring dresses, gloves, patent leather shoes, and of course hats. My mother wore hats all the time- stylish ones- with great panache. On Easter Sunday, we all (my mother, my sister, and myself) wore hats and and new shoes. As we got older, we wore gloves and carried patent leather purses like Mom's. For Easter one year, she made my sister and I coats and she made me a tulip hat.
As our culture has changed, many of our traditions- and their meanings- have been lost. Easter is the Christian holiday commemorating the Resurrection of Christ. New clothes, new hats, and new shoes were all cultural symbols of the spiritual renewal and a fresh start in life that day brings.
Since most women no longer wear hats, the Easter bonnet is a tradition that has nearly been lost. I am happy to report that some cities, such as Seattle, NYC, and Asheville, NC still host Easter Bonnet Competitions. Get your hats on, ladies, and join the Parade!