35 Charming Vintage Photos of How Easter Used to Be Celebrated
From early White House Easter Egg Rolls to churchgoers’ finest hats along the Fifth Avenue parade, these Easter photos make you want to step back in time.
Atlantic City, Easter Parade, 1905
Library of Congress
This parade, which started in 1876, is said to be the oldest official Easter Sunday parade in America. At its peak in the 1930s, up to 500,000 people promenaded along the boardwalk. Prizes, which were awarded in categories like best dressed and best bonnet, were handed out by another Atlantic City icon: Miss America. Take a look at these myths and legends that sparked Easter traditions.
Bright smiles at the Easter Parade, 1952
Miss Jean Leonard, Air Force Sergeant Harry Logan, and Mrs. Harry Logan celebrate Easter in style as they celebrate in Harlem, New York. For the special occasion, the sergeant made sure to have his uniform pressed and to wear his medals. These are the most glamourous vintage photos from the ’50s.
Courtesy Kathleen Lewis/Reminisce
“For Easter, my mother always made the same dresses for my three girls and my sister Lila’s two daughters. She’d walk the girls uptown, in Johnstown, Ohio, to show them off in a sort of miniature Easter parade,” says Kathleen Lewis of Newark, Ohio.
Afro Newspaper/Gado/Getty Images
A mother and daughter wear festive outfits to celebrate Easter in 1959. Notice the flowers on the mother’s shawl and in the daughter’s hairpiece to honor the start of Spring.
Courtesy Roland Bodin/Reminisce
“This is my brother-in-law, Steve Broussard, displaying his Easter loot in his family’s yard in Lake Charles. Steve was lucky, with three baskets filled with candy and eggs—and even caught the Easter bunny at work,” says Roland Bodin of Lake Charles, Louisiana.
Ready for church
Afro American Newspapers/Gado/Getty Images
A mother holds the hands of her two little girls as they head to church on Easter Sunday morning. They’re all smiles and happy to be wearing their pretty dresses.
Austen Gray and wife Alice Munroe Burnham, New York City, Easter 1913
Library of Congress
While Atlantic City may be the oldest official Easter Parade, New York City’s unofficial Easter Parade on Fifth Avenue is older—it’s been taking place since the 1870s. Fifth Avenue was where the well-to-do worshiped. As Easter displays at the stretch’s churches became more elaborate, so did people’s clothing. Churchgoers would stroll along the avenue after services, to show off their attire and to admire the flowers at other churches. By the 1880s, New York’s parade had become one of the best known Easter traditions in America.
Easter Sunday was the time of the year for people to display their finest hats; the couple shown here both don stylish toppers. (Fun fact: Nine years before this photo was taken, the pair was the cause of nationwide scandal because they wed in secret in Newport, Rhode Island. The reason? Burnham’s parents disapproved of Gray).
A colorful Easter
Courtesy Lavonne Bouressa/Reminisce
Little Kerri Reed is all decked out, complete with bunny, for the Easter parade. Kerri’s aunt, Lavonna Bouressa of Sacramento, California, vividly remembers those days when she and her sister, Helyn Reed, made colorful Easter outfits for their young daughters.