National Umbrella Day: The History | Fulton Umbrellas

Umbrella Sky Project
Umbrella Sky Project

Our brolly is by far our most trusted companion. Wind, rain, or snow, we can always rely on this little gadget to guide us through the harsher weather conditions here in the UK. It’s the 10th February and our team couldn’t be more excited to celebrate National Umbrella Day, so here’s a rundown of everything you need to know about this product that was invented thousands of years ago.

The Birth
The term ‘umbrella’ stems from the Latin root word ‘umbra’ which means shade or shadow. In ancient Egypt, that’s exactly what the first parasol was created for. By living in a hotter climate, Egyptian nobility and royalty thought that it would be wise to protect themselves from direct sunlight — they also had a fascination of having pale skin and a parasol helped this.

As the Egyptians had no reason to design a waterproof umbrella, this was created in China in the 11th century BC using leather. As this was an expensive material at the time, only the most affluent members of society used them.

Greece and Rome soon adopted the non-waterproofed Egyptian styled parasol which acted exclusively as a ladies umbrella.

The Fall
To give a balanced standpoint on history, we should touch on the fall too! After the descent of the Roman Empire, the umbrella became absent in Europe for 1,000 years. The shift in lifestyle and lack of technological innovation was one of the biggest factors that played into this — and ultimately, people couldn’t afford to have such luxuries during this period.

The Resurrection
Umbrellas became popular again in the late 16th century across Europe. This was a direct result of the start of the Renaissance in Italy, where many paintings were influenced by the tales of Asia where many women used parasols. The difference was, there were now more suitable routes to trade the product!

It was still thought to be a female accessory, up until the 18th century. However, Jonas Hanway, a writer and traveller, switched things up when he carried and used an umbrella publicly in England for most of his life. Englishmen soon caught on to the trend and often called their umbrella their ‘Hanway’.

The umbrella has continued to live on since then and has become an integral part of modern culture. From making moves on the catwalk to featuring in some of our favourite pieces of art, movies and even music videos.

Today, we rely on our umbrellas to protect us from the unpredictable weather! Do you have any funny umbrella stories or memories? Let us know on Twitter @FultonUmbrella!