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Black armbands for mourning... when did that stop?

Discussion in 'The Golden Era' started by p51, Jul 25, 2010.

  1. p51

    p51 Practically Family

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    You see people in old movies wearing black armbands for mourning. When did this practice cease? I'm 40 and I've never seen it done. Was it a specific religion thing? I have asked plenty of people from various ages and the older folks agree it was done decades ago, but nobody can seem to recall seeing it done into the 50s at the latest.
    I searched google but turned up very little. Does anyone know? I assume it was a protestant thing ir did it go across religions?
     
  2. MPicciotto

    MPicciotto Practically Family

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    Eastern Shore, MD
    As my family is Jewish and I was raised as such I can attest that in Judaism a torn piece of black fabric or ribbon is worn by immediate family members while in mourning. Also I know that those who wear badges (police, firefighters...) have "mourning bands" of black placed around the badge. I'm not familiar with the armbands but both of the above are I'd say related.

    Matt
     
  3. Edward

    Edward Bartender

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    Never seen it in my lifetime. I've seen plenty of black four in hand ties worn (mostly, but not exclusively, at funerals) to much the same end. Around the time that Diana Windsor died, I remember seeing folks wearing black ribbons (similar to the Aids awareness ribbons, but black in hue).
     
  4. LaMedicine

    LaMedicine One Too Many

    Here (Japan) funeral attendees (men) wearing black armbands was common until..hmm...ten, 15 years ago, I think. I used to see it almost invariably when I was young--in fact, we always had one ready for my husband just in case, until about that time, and kiosks at train stations always had them in stock for people who forgot them. Don't see them any more though, and no one wore them at my father's funeral 4 years ago.
     
  5. Mid-fogey

    Mid-fogey Practically Family

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    The Virginia Peninsula
    It's funny...

    ...everyone seems to know about them, but no one seems to have seen it in years. Do people even wear them to funerals?
     
  6. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    It's still done in sports, especially baseball -- when some important figure associated with a team dies, all members will wear a black armband, often accompanied by the decedant's number or initials sewn above it.

    [​IMG]

    I think this is pretty much the last, vestigal survival of the practice, at least in the US. It's been a tradition among ballplayers at least since the twenties.
     
  7. Paisley

    Paisley I'll Lock Up

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    Location:
    Indianapolis
    Black Armbands: Then and Now

    From Etiquette by Emily Post, 1940:

    The necessities of business and professional affairs, which make withdrawal into seclusion impossible, have also made it entirely correct for a man to go into mourning by the simple expedient of putting a black band on his hat and on the left sleeve of his clothes. Also he wears black shoes, gloves, socks and ties, and white instead of colored linen....

    The sleeve band is from three and a half to four and a half inches in width and is of dull cloth on overcoats or winter clothing, and of serge on summer clothes....

    ...Widowers--especially if they are elderly--often go into black clothes, and wear very dark gray mixtures, with a deep band on the hat, and of course black accessories.​

    From the rest of the mourning customs that Ms. Post writes about, it seems that women did not wear black armbands. The simply wore conservative black, gray or mauve clothing. "One may not, one must not wear the latest exaggerations of fashion in crepe, nor may one be boisterous or flippant or sloppy in manner....Yet [someone who does] may be, and very likely is, a perfectly decent young person and really sad at heart, and her clothes and makeup--are really not different from countless others who pass unnoticed because they are not in mourning, real or supposed."

    Something like this:

    http://pubsub.com/Sarah-Jessica-Parker-Honors-Alexander-McQueen-at-Sex-and-the-City-2-London-Premiere_Fashion-alexander-mcqueen-AlexanderMcqueen-f3Riki2MXVZ,eor7R4P11lZE

    Along with her black lace head plumage (how'd you like to be the one sitting behind her?) and her leg-baring gown with an embellished nude bodice, [Sarah Jessica] Parker wore a black armband as a tribute to the late McQueen.​

    It seems that the black armband is now a symbol of tribute, not necessarily mourning, which is unfortunate.

    The history of black armbands would be a good question for Miss Manners at the Washington Post. If you know her only by name, she's not only an etiquette columnist, but a historian and a philosopher. I'd love to know what she has to say about the subject.
     
  8. "Skeet" McD

    "Skeet" McD Practically Family

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    A personal experience...and a rumination on Baseball

    When my mother, God rest her soul! died, I wore nothing but black and white for a year; it was surprising to me how many people asked "oh! where are you going tonight?" having mistaken mourning (complete with black-trimmed handkerchieves) for....evening dress. On that score, I'd say--even here in Boston--the tradition is for all practical purposes, dead as a cultural phenomenon.

    As a late convert to baseball, one of the things that impressed me with the sport and made me see that there was much done withing the culture of the game that I could relate to was....the mourning bands and hatchments the estimable Lizzie quite rightly mentions.

    Not to hijack the thread but frankly I think the baseball diamond is the last place in America where men are covered in public out of doors; tip their caps; wear mourning; and in which people act on their religious convictions in public without a thought, and without a comment. Daisuke Matsuzaka uncovers, bows his head, and either prays or meditates before taking the mound; many players cross themselves before batting; various individuals point Heavenward on crossing home plate. No one knows, or cares I think, what particular religion, or none, they have....it just goes on and is...unremarkable. All bits of an earlier culture that survive between the lines. For my money....would that these things were more common out in foul territory....WAAAAY out in foul territory....

    "Skeet"
     
  9. p51

    p51 Practically Family

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    Odd, isn't it? What I still don't know is when the practice fell out of favor... [huh]
     
  10. LordBest

    LordBest Practically Family

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    Location:
    Australia
    This particular tradition seems only to survive in sport here, also. Primarily Australian Rules Football.
     
  11. WW2WaltUSMC

    WW2WaltUSMC New in Town

    Messages:
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    Location:
    Boston, MA
    The mourning brassard, as it is known in military parlance, is still worn by Marines when participating in a funeral, and may be worn by those Marines in mourning over a loved one or brother in arms. If you ever see photos of Marines acting as pallbearers or ceremonial marchers at Arlington, they are wearing the bands on their left arms, it often covers their chevrons.
     
  12. 57plymouth

    57plymouth One of the Regulars

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    How long after the death of a loved one was a mourning band worn?
     
  13. Edward

    Edward Bartender

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    London, UK
    Interesting that it has survived in contexts where the more common modern option, a black necktie, is not an option - i.e. military uniforms (where the colour of the necktie is dictated as a uniform item) and sports uniforms (where a necktie is not part of the uniform).
     
  14. Jack Armstrong

    Jack Armstrong Familiar Face

    Messages:
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    Location:
    Central Pennsylvania
    I don't think you'll ever find out, because I don't think it was ever a uniform thing in all parts of the United States. The earliest funeral I can remember was in 1951, and no one was wearing any black armbands. That was in the coal country of Eastern Pennsylvania. It may have been more common elsewhere and it might have lasted longer in other places, but I doubt that the practice was ever uniformly observed across the country.
     
  15. JimWagner

    JimWagner Practically Family

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    Durham, NC
    I am probably wrong here, but I thought it was mainly a practice when you didn't wear a black suit.

    As affluence made it possible for men to own several suits, one of which might already be black, the practice probably when by the wayside.

    Add on top of that less formality.

    I've been to a few funerals recently where not even the immediate family wore black, let alone armbands.
     
  16. Puzzicato

    Puzzicato One Too Many

    I was going to say that, when LizzieMaine mentioned baseball, although I am sure I have seen it at cricket matches too. I'm sure I remember it from when David Hookes died.
     
  17. p51

    p51 Practically Family

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    Well behind the front lines!
    Now that makes a lot of sense.
     
  18. Mr_D.

    Mr_D. A-List Customer

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    Location:
    North Ga.
    I still see this and other versions practiced today. For example when a police officer of firefighter passes away, many will wear a black band around their badge.
     

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