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Why Wear White on Easter Sunday?

By Barbara Rainey

First posted on

I was working outside on a glorious spring day when out of nowhere I started thinking of the words to an old Easter song by Irving Berlin that I remember from my childhood:

“In your Easter bonnet, with all the frills upon it, 

You’ll be the grandest lady in the Easter parade.”

And then I thought, “How typical of us, especially as women, and particularly me, to make Easter about fashion and how we look.”

I loved making or buying adorable new dresses or little suits for my children for Easter Sunday. New clothes help us set apart a special occasion. Nothing wrong with that.

But I realized in hindsight that I had another motive—I wanted my children to be noticed for how cute and adorable they were. Not exactly the devotion to Christ that Resurrection Day deserves. Happily there is grace for my shortcomings and mixed motives.

Today it’s common for women and children to wear pastel or bright-colored dresses for Easter (if they wear anything special at all to mark the occasion). But this year I’d like to suggest you consider reviving an old tradition by wearing white for Easter.

And at some point in recent decades, it seems, the meaning of wearing white on Easter was lost. As I thought about it, I realized that somewhere, someone understood that believers in Christ will one day wear white linen in heaven. Wearing white for the first time on Easter Sunday symbolizes not only our future, but also the dramatic change from the dark drab of winter to the clean newness waiting for us because of the Resurrection.

By sporting some white, we declare our identification with Christ, our hope for the future, our joy in this greatest victory of all history. This is the imagery in verses like:

  • Revelation 3:4: “ … they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy.”

  • Revelation 19:14: “And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following Him on white horses.”

So as you prepare for Resurrection Sunday, go ahead and plan something new to remind you of your new life in Christ. And something white, to remember that “though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow” (Isaiah 1:18).

But make sure your heart is focused on celebrating the Savior, not on being the grandest lady with perfectly adorned children in church on Easter Sunday.

Christ is risen!

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