Friday, August 30, 2019


I think the last generation of the beloved Hope Chest, was my generation. I am not sure if my generation did it for their girls, but I know that one of my aunts did it for hers. To be sure you are aware, a Hope Chest is something that moms did for their daughters for when they got married. It’s a chest containing household linen and clothing stored by a woman in preparation for her marriage. Today, young women are living on their own first before getting married, and it’s sad that the Hope Chest tradition hasn’t continued. My sister and I were talking one day, and she said “I wish I would have started a hope chest for the girls when they were smaller”. She is an amazing mom with above the grid taste, and she has passed that on to her girls. She said that she would like to start something now, even though they are out and on their own. No one knows if they will ever go the marriage route, but all I could think about was that was a great tradition!! For those of you who don’t really know, or haven’t ever heard of a hope chest, here are some of the things a mom (or grandma) includes: Practical Items may include things such as • Towels • Table Cloths • Silverware and dishware • Cookware • Cooking utensils • A tool box or bag filled with tools • Silver and Gold • Books • Sewing kit. At 58 I still don’t have one. And they are often needed! • Things such as smoke detectors, fire extinguishers and good flash lights. • Bedding could be included, but styles change, bed sizes and moths…might be a deterrent for these things. • Something that is popular today. It would be interesting to see the difference between the taste of today, and the taste of when your child receives the box. • A cast iron pan • A framed family photo • Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace book • A good set of white dishes • An ice cream scoop • A recipe book that contains favorite family recipes and a few goofy pictures added too! Things from the heart • Their Christening gown • Old diaries and cards • Christmas ornaments • Family Recipes • Family bible ( take into consideration that they have maybe accumulated a few bibles over the years) • Photo album • Handmade things • Notes about the significance of some of the things in the chest. Traditions 1Hope chests are an ancient tradition to prepare a girl for her future as a wife. These wooden chests are also known by other names, like glory boxes, dowry chests, trousseau, and cedar chests, though they got their most popular name because of the 'hope' that they provided to unmarried girls for a good future. Check out the history behind the glorious hope chest tradition. The idea behind these wooden chests was to provide the newly-married couple with the basic necessities for their daily life. An industrious wife was considered as an asset, and this chest also helped girls pick up essential skills like sewing and embroidery at an early age, which were required later in life. Renaissance Era Hope chests reached their peak of popularity during the Renaissance in Europe. This period saw the rise of different styles of chests in various kingdoms. In Germany, it was customary for a man courting a girl to give her a wooden chest. These chests were used for storing gifts, such as jewelry and notes from the suitor. European Settlement in America The hope chest reached the Americas with the large-scale emigration of Europeans from kingdoms such as Great Britain, Scandinavia, and Germany, beginning in the 18th century. This journey across the oceans was long and tedious, and many families packed all their belongings in a single wooden chest. These chests were later used to store blankets and clothing, as a bench since chairs were a luxury in those times, and at times even as a bed. By the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th, hope chests had become a common tradition among low and middle-class girls too in the United States. Most of the production of hope chests was centered on the region of New England. Recent History The tradition of hope chests began to decline in the US after the early 20th century. The First World War changed all that. When World War I began in 1914, Virginia-based Lane Furniture Company received a profitable contract from the government to manufacture pine chests to store military ammunition. Immediately after the war, the company diversified its operations to produce cedar boxes for domestic use, which had a reviving effect on the custom of hope chests. During the 1930s, the company began offering free, miniature hope chests to girls graduating out of high school in hope that they would want the larger and more expensive chests. During the Second World War, the company tried to attract American GIs, saying that hope chests were the perfect gift for the time they spent away from their wives or girlfriends. Thus, in a few decades, Lane Co. had rewritten the entire history of hope chests in the United States. This tradition faded after the Second World War. This time saw the rise of women's lib, as, for the first time, women had gone out into the workforce during the war. While most hope chests in modern homes are family heirlooms relegated to storing old blankets, this tradition is seeing a gradual revival by supporters of healthy Christian traditions. If you recall, in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, the daughter received a wedding head piece that was worn by both her grandmother and her mother. In that scene, the smaller box was holding the contents of her grandmother’s personal things. I just wanted to thank my sister, Meg, for reminding me of this beautiful tradition. I just know that whether they marry and start a family, or stay single and live as career women, the receiving of a hope chest, will be one of the things that will stay with them forever, and perhaps if they have children, or nieces and nephews, they might pass tradition on to them as well.

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