Easter (Colors)

easter

In wishing a happy Easter to my Christian friends, I’m wondering, this being the season, if anyone out there know anything  about the sartorial origins of all those pastel and other bright colored outfits that seem to be so popular for this particular holiday? I’m guessing, of course, it has something to do with spring and resurrection, and I know there are very precise liturgical rules determining which colors to wear for which seasons or events. But what has always been a mystery to me, even as a child growing up in a very Protestant neighborhood in Baltimore, is the sheer brightness of these pastel hues. Where does the brightness of these reds and yellows and greens and purples come from originally, from Germany, Poland, England, Scotland, Ireland, or is this unique to the United States? Is this what Easter looked like in the 1920s or 1930s or is this a particularly postwar look? Were these colors originally Protestant or Catholic? Do they have anything to do with golf? There’s nothing that interests me more than the mystery of other minds and other religions.

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics. http://religion.syr.edu
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6 Responses to Easter (Colors)

  1. Jon Awbrey says:

    Too lazy to do any scholarly work today, but I’m guessing you’d have to go back to the pagan origins of seasonal festivals, maybe look in The Golden Bough under sympathetic magic.

  2. Jon Awbrey says:

    Then again, just free associating here — Freud being born in 1856 — the thematic link between Paschal and Passover is something like “Death Takes A Holiday”, enough to rubricize the more sanguine end of the spectrum, and that would make the pastiness of the pastels a brand of euphemism, a sop to the Eumenides.

    I leave the rest to Dan Brown …

  3. Barbara says:

    “Where does the brightness of these reds and yellows and greens and purples come from originally, from Germany, Poland, England, Scotland, Ireland, or is this unique to the United States?”

    Not from Poland, I’m quite sure.

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