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Red Hat Society Day

Red Hat Society Day commemorates the anniversary of the date in 1998 when a group of women gathered for a tea party in Fullerton, California, to wear purple clothing and red hats. They called themselves the Red Hat Society, and thus, April 25 became the founding date of the Red Hat Society, which is now an international social organization. "When members asked us to proclaim a Red Hat Society Day, we thought the first-ever tea seemed to be the appropriate date," said Red Hat Society founder Sue Ellen Cooper, who is known as the Exalted Queen Mother. "We made the day official by doing what we always do—proclaiming it Red Hat Society Day ourselves," she said. Local Red Hat Society chapters celebrate the day in different ways. Tea parties, parades, and mall crawls are common activities, as is wearing red hats and purple clothing, of course. Government officials like governors and mayors have made proclamations for the day over the years.

The roots of the Red Hat Society date to 1997, when Sue Ellen Cooper gave her friend a red hat for her 55th birthday, along with a copy of "Warning" by Jenny Joseph. She included the poem—which begins with the line, "when I am an old woman, I shall wear purple with a red hat which doesn't go and doesn't suit me"—as a way to encourage her friend to grow old in a carefree manner. Soon afterward, Cooper gave red hats to more of her friends, and on April 25, 1998, the consequential tea party was held.

At first only women over 50 could join the Red Hat Society, but now all women can. While those 50 and over wear red hats and purple clothing, those under 50 wear pink hats and lavender clothing. There are thousands of members in chapters all around the world. Members wear their hats and outfits, go to luncheons, dinners, and teas, shop, take day trips, see concerts and stage performances, and ride floats in parades. Members are to renew their membership annually, get to know their "sisters," support the cause of reshaping the way women are viewed by culture, and "have the most fun possible." According to the organization," the Red Hat Society is a unique international playgroup for women that promotes our passion of fun, friendship, fitness, the freedom to express ourselves in positive ways, and a dedication to the fulfillment of lifelong dreams, gained all through the power of fun!"

Members create friendships with other members online and in person. They have access to members around the world through the members-only website. Those who join automatically gain membership in the official worldwide Red Hat Society chapter. They can also join a local chapter but are not required to. Members can update their membership to that of a Queen and are then eligible to start their own chapter. Men are not allowed to join.

How to Observe Red Hat Society Day

  • If you are not a member of the Red Hat Society, you could join. You could then find a chapter to join or start your own chapter.
  • If you are already a part of the society, celebrate with your fellow members. Wear a red hat and purple clothing if you are 50 or over, and wear a pink hat and lavender clothing if you are under 50. Join others for a tea party, ride a float in a parade, or go to the mall.
  • Explore Member's Corner on the Red Hat Society website.
  • Read "Warning" by Jenny Joseph.
  • If you are a man, and thus not allowed to join the Red Hat Society, you could encourage the women in your life to join the society or support those already part of it. Perhaps you could also wear a red hat in solidarity.
  • Donate to the Red Hat Society.
  • Join The Official Red Hat Society Group on Facebook.

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