Saturday, April 15, 2017

Easter Memories from the 1950s

Easter Sunday meant the celebration of the Risen Lord.  It meant attending church on Sunday morning.  A church with all the statues either replaced in their position or unshrouded from their purple coverings.  It was a day of joy and celebration with flowers decorating the altar in abundance. We prepared for Easter during the six weeks of Lent by making sacrifices and attending additional church services.  There were meatless Fridays, days of fasting, and personal sacrifices.  No candy for six weeks or attending daily Mass were popular personal sacrifices.

Good Friday was commemorated by abstaining from meat, fasting between meals and observing silence between the hours of noon and three o'clock. Then most businesses closed at noon or at least observed the practice of silence.  Many spent those hours in a church on their knees.  If you were at home, silence meant exactly that.  No talking and no radio.

Easter Sunday was a time to wear new spring clothes to celebrate Christ rising from the dead and His return to the world,  It is also a time of rebirth in the world of nature. Baby  animals are born, flowers bloom and trees leaf. This is the reason for some of the traditions that we observe.

In our house, Easter eve meant that it was time to decorate the hats that the girls would wear to church the next day.  Earlier in the week, each of the girls was allowed to choose one of our straw hats to wear with her Easter dress.  Then we would go to the local "dime" store and pick out a flower spray and ribbon to trim our hat.  The decorating was done on Saturday night when Mom would use a needle and thread to attach the flowers and ribbons to the hats. With five daughters this was never a small project, and it was long before glue guns. After the hats were ready, it was time to fill the Easter Baskets with candy treats and small gifts. Sometimes they included new lace trimmed ankle socks or new white gloves. Sometimes the boys got new socks or ties. It probably depended on who needed what to complete their outfit.

On Sunday morning we would walk the block to church as a family,  We were quite a sight in our Easter finery.  All of the boys in suits or jackets with white shirts and ties.  The girls in pastel dresses with flowered and beribboned hats and Mom with the corsage that Dad had purchased for her on her left shoulder. Dad was very proud when the eleven of us would arrive at church and fill an entire pew!

I don't remember the holiday menu but there was definitely a holiday dinner, sometimes including anunts and uncles.  Easter Baskets included outside toys.such as kites, glider planes, jump ropes, and jacks.  It was Spring and time to celebrate the great outdoors!