Catholic Activity: New Clothes for Easter
Father Francis Weiser explains the custom of new clothes for Easter Sunday.
As the newly baptized Christians in the early centuries wore white garments of new linen, so it became a tradition among all the faithful to appear in new clothes on Easter Sunday, symbolizing the "new life" that the Lord, through His Resurrection, bestowed upon all believers. This custom was widespread during medieval times; in many places a popular superstition threatened with ill luck all those who could afford to buy new clothes for Easter Sunday but refused to do so. It is an ancient saying in Connemara, Ireland: "For Christmas, food and drink; for Easter, new clothes." On Easter many children in Ireland dress in green, white, and yellow: green hair ribbons, yellow dress, and white shoes. It is also an old tradition for some children there to wear little crosses made of multicolored ribbons on the right arm on Easter Sunday (perhaps a substitute for those who cannot afford new clothes). This ancient tradition of new clothes is still adhered to, although its meaning and background have long since been forgotten by many. Actually, in many a modern family this is, perhaps, the one and only Easter custom that is still faithfully practiced.
Activity Source: Easter Book, The by Francis X. Weiser, S.J., Harcourt, Brace and Company, New York, 1954