This day is designated to celebrate one of the world’s most useful inventions. Whether it be to keep us dry from the rain or out of the heat of the sun, the umbrella had a wide variety of uses. With the many different designs and colors an umbrella can come in, it is also used as a fashion accessory by many.
History of the Umbrella
The umbrella has a vast history going back to ancient China. The word itself comes from the Latin word umbra which means shade. In places such as Great Britain, New Zealand, Australia, and South Africa, they use the slang term brolly. In the late 19th century many creative Americans used the term bumbershoot to describe their umbrellas. There are many references to umbrellas in ancient Chinese culture. This includes a reference in the Book of Han that references a collapsible umbrella in the year 21 AD. The umbrella was often used in Chinese ceremonies and is mentioned to be placed upon the cars of the emperor in the book Zhou Li which dates back over 2,400 years. The umbrella is also found in various other ancient cultures such as the Middle East. In the sculptures at Nineveh, the umbrella appears often. The umbrella was observed to be solely held over the head of the bald monarch and never to be carried by anyone else. The umbrella appears in artwork in Persia as well. In one sculpture, a deer hunt is taking place with the king looking on, an umbrella held to protect him from the sun by an attendant.
The umbrella takes a slightly different form in Ancient Egypt. In some instances it is depicted as a fan of palm leaves or colored feathers on a long handle. In others, it is depicted as the umbrella we see today attached to a long pole on a chariot. Like in the middle east and China, the umbrella was used as a sign of distinction and only used by those in power and wealth. There is even one painting where an umbrella is held above the head of a god. It wasn’t until ancient Greece that the umbrella was seen as a fashion accessory for women. There was a brief period of cultural changes that led to men carrying umbrellas but eventually they began carrying nothing at all while women still carried umbrellas. This tradition of carrying umbrellas was passed to ancient rome and is mentioned in many Roman classics. It was considered a position of honor for maids to carry an umbrella over the women they served. The umbrella is seen in ancient Indian literature as well. It is mentioned in the sanskrit work the Mahabharata when an archer shoots the sun. the sun, begging for mercy offers the archer an umbrella.
Today, umbrellas have a more practical purpose and are enjoyed by many people throughout the world. We have designed umbrellas to be able to withstand more extreme weather and higher winds. The umbrella symbol has been used in meteorology as well to become the universal symbol for a rainy day ahead.
How to Celebrate Umbrella Day
Rain or shine, anyone can celebrate National Umbrella Day. You can celebrate by buying a new umbrella or using an old one and enjoying the protection it provides and the history behind this incredibly useful invention.