Miss W’s blog: Easter hat parades

When I think of Easter hat parades, my mind is instantly cast back to primary school with visions of colourful handmade creations featuring straw, polystyrene, cardboard, glitter, ribbon and those fuzzy little fake yellow chicks with plastic legs. I remember my mum staying up all night gluing and stapling and tying things together to make the perfect headpiece. It always had to be j-u-u-s-t right (although I can’t say I remember ever winning a prize, so not quite sure how on the money my hats were in reality!).

I have hazy memories of chocolate eggs being super glued to hats that would then melt in the blazing sunlight. I remember one particularly rainy Easter when the ink from all the coloured cardboards melted down every kid’s neck at school as their hats became floppy casualties. I remember getting to a certain tween age and thinking it was way cooler to just wear bunny ears rather than a hat. As a matter of fact, I am still partial to wearing the odd bunny ear headband every now and then… but that’s another story altogether.

The origins of the Easter hat parade date back to the 1870s, when – after the Civil War was over – women would buy beautiful new clothes and hats (at the time, bonnets) after fasting for Lent, then proudly walk the streets of New York City like a catwalk after church on Easter Sunday to signify their spiritual renewal and redemption. Lovers of old movies may remember Judy Garland and Fred Astaire donning their finest in the 1948 film Easter Parade, and it’s fair to say NYC has ownership over Easter paegants, with the annual Easter Bonnet Parade on Fifth Avenue now a huge event that sees around 30,000 people participate in making and wearing the most outlandish over the top creations you can imagine.

Some would say that the origins of headpieces being worn to represent the cycle of life and the change of seasons dates back even further, to pagan times when WooMoon/Coachella/Burning Man style floral headdresses, crowns and wreaths were worn in the hair at Easter during spring – the time of fertility, new life and rebirth. It’s also referenced in Shakespeare’s tragedy Romeo and Juliet, which was written in 1597. That’s a long, long time ago…

In more recent history, the tradition was passed down to school children, who would be asked to design an Easter themed bonnet and then wear it to school. Apparently, it’s a tradition that’s now dying out, due to the religious connotations of the event not conforming with the PC nature of contemporary school systems, which I think is kind of sad. I loved going to school with a bird’s nest or bunny ears on my head. I loved seeing everyone’s creativity (OK, their parents’ creativity) on the morning of the parade and wondering who would be crowned (get it?) winner each year. The kids of today seem to get stiffed on so many fun things!

Right… so what on earth does this have to do with Ibiza I hear you wondering? Well, Good Friday in Ibiza is the day when you can watch an entirely different variety of Easter hat parade wind its way through our town streets. As the sun goes down, hundreds and hundreds of born and bred locals don their tallest, pointiest hats and make a beeline for Dalt Vila, where the procession commences. The most common visual associations with these pointy hats are wizards (tall purple pointy hats) and the Klu Klux Klan (tall white point hats), however neither is correct – which is a shame on one hand, because I think it would be kind of cool if we had a wizard parade converge on Dalt Vila. As for the other, well, we don’t need that kind of attitude on our lovely welcoming island.

Again, I digress.

As night falls, the streets of Dalt Vila are taken over by these pointy-hat clad people, who march oh-so-slowly to the beat of sombre drums and a brass band. I’ll admit – they are not solely parading around the streets to show off these hats, as I may have been alluding to thus far. Rather, the hats are just the finishing touch to the very traditional Catholic costumes called ‘nazarenos’ – long flowing robes, plus the pointy hats that are also designed to completely cover your face (the idea is to hide the identity of sinners). The procession itself is penitential, and along with the hundreds of ‘sinners’ paying penance by marching by candlelight (these days I hear it’s more a case of taking part for tradition’s sake), there are also those who carry enormous effigies of Jesus down from the cathedral and through the streets of Ibiza town and moving from church to church. I’m pretty sure they have sore arms and legs for days afterwards.

Some people find the Semana Santa procession a little spooky, daunting or scary. I personally find it fascinating and actually quite spectacular. I’ve watched it every year for over a decade now and I am yet to tire of it. If you’ve never seen it, then I suggest you make a point of heading up to Dalt Vila tomorrow just before sunset to witness it for yourself. Then make up your mind. If you prefer your Easter hats more fluffy than pointy, that’s your prerogative. I for one, think there’s room enough in the world for us all to wear whatever kind of hat (ahem, or bunny ears) we want, at Easter or any time that takes our fancy!