The head covering is part of Christian tradition all over the world. It is only in English speaking countries (particularly the United States) where this Catholic and Biblical custom has fallen by the wayside. As a Caucasian boy, growing up in Southern California, I found myself surrounded by Hispanic communities. I still have very fond memories of my childhood home, and for a white man, I'm not the least bit embarrassed to say I find myself more "at home" and "at ease" in Hispanic culture than my current Anglo-Saxon surroundings of the American Midwest.
My grandmother was Swedish, but she was raised in Cuba - go figure! She spoke fluent Spanish, and didn't know a word of Scandinavian. She was also a Roman Catholic. Growing up in Southern California, with my Spanish-speaking white grandma, got me in pretty close with the Hispanic-Catholic culture of the area. The older women of those parishes were staunchly conservative in their religious practices, and to be quite honest, I've never seen a more modest and classy group. These women knew how to be Catholic, Spanish, classy and at the same time absolutely beautiful. Their Spanish shawls served a double purpose. Inside the Church they frequently used them as a type of mantilla, while outside, they dropped them down over their shoulders to create a elegant wrap, useful for social gatherings in the cool outdoors. In all my years since childhood, I've never seen a more impressive and stunning display of feminine Catholic beauty.
My wife also grew up in the same neighborhood as I, and she (like my grandmother), is a Scandinavian who identifies more with Catholic-Hispanic culture than her own. (Guess what I'm getting her for Christmas.) If only more Catholic women across America would pick up this particular tradition. If they did American Catholicism would benefit, Catholic women would be known for their classy style, and I would start to feel at home again.
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