The Altar Party waits for the congregation to process out of the church for the Blessing of the Seersucker, June 5, 2011.
But at the conclusion of the 11 a.m. Mass, we will lighten things up with our Second Annual Blessing of the Seersucker. This brief service is our take on the “kirking” or blessing of the tartans, celebrated by Washington National Cathedral, the City of Alexandria, VA, and others. While tartans may represent ancestral links with Britain for some, we think that seersucker might better represent our clan, especially as we struggle through a hot D.C. summer and still try to look nice.
Seersucker is thought to have been introduced to the American South through British colonial trade, sometime in the second half of the 19th century. In 1907 a New Orleans tailor made the first seersucker suit. He called the lightweight, pale blue and white striped rumpled cotton fabric “seersucker” from the Persian words for “milk” and “sugar.” The suits became popular because they kept their good looks through the multiple washings they received during the summer.
Seersucker is a familiar fabric in Washington. In 1996, Senator Trent Lott of Mississippi launched Seersucker Thursday, aiming to “bring a little Southern charm to the Capitol” and to remind the Senate of how Senators dressed before the advent of air conditioning in the 1950s. In 2004, Senator Dianne Feinstein decided to increase participation by encouraging women senators to follow the tradition. The following year 11 of the 14 women senators appeared on Seersucker Thursday in outfits received as gifts from Feinstein.
At All Souls we take some things very seriously: the beauty of holiness in worship, justice for all God’s children, the power of healing, prayer, and the sacraments; but we try not to take ourselves too seriously. Especially this Sunday, as we ask God’s blessing on our seersucker and the coming season, may we also ask God to strengthen us in humor and in love.