As Americans, we usually put a hat on a baby to protect his or her precious head, keep it warm, or complete a stylish outfit, right?
When I was younger and living in Canada, I remember only wearing a hat to play in the snow. We used mainly tuques (essentially a beanie hat) and ski hats – the kind that pull down over your face with open spots for your eyes and mouth!
But in many countries around the world, hats have special meaning for children beyond protecting their sweet little heads.
Many countries older than America have intricate traditional costumes or traditions that involve hats.
Chinese baby hats for health and happiness
In China, mothers traditionally embroidered elaborate hats for their children, using the rich symbolism prevalent in Chinese culture. The hope was for the hat to provide both protection of the child from evil and to imbue qualities such as health, happiness, beauty, and success. (See some vintage Chinese children’s hats here available from a collector.)
Even in modern times, hats are still playing an important role for children beyond simply keeping them warm and looking cute.
Yellow hats for school children’s safety in Japan
In Japan, young children make their way to school by themselves from first grade, walking and taking public transportation like buses and trains. So on their way to school, they all wear yellow caps. This helps motorists see them better, as little kids can be hard to spot for drivers. A great idea, right? Leave it to Japan to coordinate hats for an entire country!
Do you know of any other hat traditions from around the world? Share your story here!