A St. Catherine’s Day Hat Parade That’s Not to Be Missed
On St Catherine’s Day in France, they have an exciting and quirky tradition that should not be missed!
In Paris, milliners and seamstresses from the top fashion houses celebrate Saint Catherine with a parade that displays elaborate hats decorated in her colors – yellow for faith and green for wisdom. This custom has spread to New Orleans and other cities around the world, making it one of the most beloved events in Uptown!
Get all decked out for the holidays and join your friends in this parade that starts at 10 a.m. Sunday and lasts less than one mile, starting from St. Charles Avenue and Pleasant Street intersection, continuing up Washington and Prytania streets before ending back at neutral ground at Pleasant Street.
Participate in the parade by making or purchasing a hat! Men and women of all ages are invited to join in the fun.
In addition, there is a “best hat” contest which awards prizes and crowns the victor as grand marshal for the following year’s parade.
This joyful event commemorates a century-old custom of wearing hats that began in the 4th century. At that time, young unmarried women would come together to clean and groom statues of Saint Cecilia – who was revered as patron saint for both hat-makers and single women – in order to commemorate her legacy.
On this holiday, women donned hats and headdresses as a fashion statement. These were worn both inside the church and out in public – often as an indication that someone might soon propose marriage to them.
For centuries, unmarried women in France have worn hats as a sign of availability to potential suitors. This tradition still lives on today in small towns and villages across France; Vesoul in Haute-Saone hosts an agricultural fair each year with the traditional Catherinettes contest for the best headgear.
The wearing of a hat tradition is believed to have evolved from an old French custom of cleaning and grooming St. Catherine statues so that women could pray to her for a husband.
In France, the Catholic Church observed this as an important holiday for unmarried women. It served as a time when they might be encouraged to search for a husband and served as an opportunity for them to make pilgrimages to Saint Anne’s statue.
On Saint Catherine’s Day, unmarried women would send cards to each other and their friends would craft elaborate hats with vibrant colors such as yellow (faith) and green (wisdom). After being crowned “Catherinettes,” these women would wear their hats throughout the rest of the day.
Today, some view wearing a hat as an archaic remnant of gender stereotypes. The notion that women’s lives are only complete once they have their husband and children is no longer prevalent in modern society.