Friday, March 21, 2008

The Easter Parade

The first time I saw mothers letting their little girls wear white shoes and dresses before Easter or after Labor Day, I was scandalized. And then I realized, the mothers weren't from the South. And some of the mothers were even breaking this sacred fashion rule themselves! This is me and my brother, Mike, Easter 1953. I was two, and yes those shoes are white!

Check out this video from the Today show last year, when Meredith committed this fashion faux-pas and see what a reaction she got. (You have to click on the video in the MSNBC article, then suffer through the Downy ad first. Sorry.)

We had this discussion at our monthly Women of St. John (Orthodox Church) ladies lunch yesterday, but with a twist. The question asked by one of the younger women, a fairly recent convert to Orthodoxy, was this: “Which Easter signals the beginning of white-wearing days, Western or Eastern?”

If you’re not familiar with Orthodoxy, you might not realize that there are two dates for Easter. Western (primarily Catholic and Protestant) Easter is almost always earlier than Pascha, or Eastern Orthodox Easter. (Sometimes it's the same Sunday.) This year the two feasts are a month apart, with the West celebrating this coming Sunday, March 23, and Orthodox Christians celebrating on April 27. (For links to information about the two dates for Easter, see my blog of March 9, here.

My answer was that the fashion rule is attached to Western Easter, because it started in the U.S., primarily amongst Southern women, and not in a "traditional Orthodox" country. But hey! If any of my readers have new light to shed on this, leave a comment and enlighten us!
And now, for more Easter Parade treats, check out this video from Dumont TV in 1958... it's an "Easter Kids Fashion Show."

Since my mother is Presbyterian, I sent her Easter card and gift this week. The card was perfect, because we had cats growing up. Here’s the cover, (left) and the text inside. (right) And yes, our name was Johnson.

But the gift was priceless. I created my very first video of it. I'm new at saving and downloading these things, so I hope it works. First, I'll insert a photo of Effie's Bunny Hopper (right) and now, here comes the video.

Since I’m immersed in my memoir, which uses clothes as its frame, I've been going through old photo albums, looking for representative pictures of fashions through the years. This one is from Easter 50 years ago, 1958, in Jackson, Mississippi.

And for those of you who read all the way through to the end of this post, a treat for your Easter basket, shared with me by a friend from Mississippi. It's called "Peep Show."

Get your white shoes ready, Mom!


Erin said...

Southern fashion faux pas!!! I'm laughing remembering the all out argument that I had with my sophomore college roommate in 1995. She was planning to wear a maroon velvet dress to a spring formal in April and I just couldn't deal with it. I kept insisting that she just couldn't wear velvet in the spring and she (a sweet Catholic Chicago-born and raised woman) could not even comprehend what my problem was. And I wouldn't let up. In retrospect I should have let it go earlier. Probably a big issue was that she didn't have something else dressy enough to wear and didn't have time to go shopping before the event. But it still seemed unacceptable to me. In the end, yes, she wore it. And the world didn't end.

Erin said...

Oh, and I think that the white shoe rule either starts with Western Easter, or if not, definitely with Orthodox Palm Sunday. You can't wait all the way until Pascha to wear your spring best. My boys wear their new clothes on Palm Sunday along with lots of other Orthodox kids. (And yes, this includes little white shoes for the toddler boys.) After all, around here, sometimes we're wearing snowsuits and mittens to the midnight Paschal service - not exactly a time for your spring best!

Erin said...

Don't you think that maybe the old tradition of Orthodox children marching with the Palms was the first Easter Parade?! It's a perfect time for new finery . . .

Susan Cushman said...

Well, thanks for commenting, Erin! Some of our younger families at St John seem to have taken up the "dress your kids up on Palm Sunday" tradition... to take a famly photo, and also because some of the kids come to Pascha in their jammies and fall asleep in the nave. So... Palm Sunday is the new white shoes day:-)

Sarah Einstein said...

I always thought it was Memorial Day. I'm such a Yankee!

the caitlyncosm said...

Oh my gosh, I just had this question last night! I really wanted to wear my fabulous white peep-toe flats today, but abandoned them for fear of an extreme fashion faux pas!

As if us Catechumens don't have enough to worry about, then I added the white shoe worry to the list!

Sarah Einstein said...

Okay, I looked it up. It's not Easter at all, but Memorial Day. I found it on three sources.

Wow, for once we Yankees were right about something having to do with etiquette and/or fashion. I assure you that's a fluke.