On a day meant to celebrate this everyday thing, find a new appreciation for your umbrella cover by celebrating Umbrella Cover Day this July 6. The often overlooked part of an umbrella, umbrella covers often find themselves in the back of closets, in drawers, or in the trash, forgotten and unused. Then we get a new umbrella, and the cycle repeats itself. These little sleeves, slipcovers, cases, sheaths — whatever they may be — deserve our recognition.
History of Umbrella Cover Day
Umbrellas have been around for a long time. Ancient Egyptians used them for shade and so did the Persians and Indians. In those days, umbrellas were made of leather to appeal to wealthy high-status families, including powerful rulers. Even the pope used a red and yellow umbrella, called the ‘umbraculum,’ for shade — this design has been replicated in churches all over the world. While the Ancient Greeks and Romans associated umbrellas with femininity, they also covered massive coliseums with umbrella canopies, called ‘velarium’, which were both rainproof and sun-proof.
Around the 16th century, umbrellas became popular in Europe. The nobles kept umbrellas in their hallways, which they would use to walk from their entrance to their carriages. As with the Greeks and the Romans, the English too believed umbrellas to be a device solely for women. That is until philanthropist Jonas Hanway started using an umbrella himself for protection against the rain. Ridiculed for 30 years, Jonas was not deterred and continued using the umbrella. His stance eventually broke the taboo, and men started using umbrellas, too. The English even adopted the term ‘Hanway’ to refer to an umbrella. These contraptions became popular in France, too. There, they were made of lightweight materials like silk and cotton, which would quickly get damaged. Frenchman Samuel Fox pioneered umbrella manufacturing, making a lighter frame of whalebone material and inventing a strap that fastened the umbrella closed. This extended the lifespan by two whole years! Jonas Hanway’s refusal to bow to societal norms and Samuel Fox’s creative bent popularized the umbrella, taking this invention worldwide.
While the history of the umbrella is well-documented, the history of umbrella covers is less clear. History does not mention the cover at all. All we know is they came into existence once umbrellas became popular because they were expensive at that time and covers served to keep them in a good condition for a long time. This function has carried over and, even today, it is rare to buy an umbrella without a cover. It’s not just the regular hand-held umbrellas that come with covers but golf umbrellas, patio umbrellas, and other models all come with them too.
The biggest tribute to umbrella covers came from Nancy 3. Hoffman, who opened an Umbrella Cover Museum in Portland, Maine. Hoffman realized she needed to establish this museum when she discovered several umbrella covers in a closet in her home. Nowadays, she hosts offline and online exhibitions at her museum, including stories of umbrellas, their covers, and their owners.
Umbrella Cover Day timeline
Carvings and drawings show the people of Ancient Egypt, India, and Persia using umbrellas for shade.
The Chinese cover their thin paper umbrellas with wax and lacquer to make them waterproof.
These devices gain widespread popularity in Europe.
English philanthropist Jonas Hanway starts using umbrellas — one of the first men to do so in England at a time when umbrellas were seen as a feminine device.
Author and journalist Daniel Defoe praises umbrellas in his famous novel, “Robinson Crusoe” — he writes about how this invention keeps the protagonist cool under the searing heat of the sun.
Student Slawa Horowitz develops a prototype for an improved compact folding umbrella.
North American Bradford E. Phillips patents his invention, the 'working folding umbrella.'
Nancy 3. Hoffman opens an Umbrella Cover Museum in the U.S.
Umbrella Cover Day FAQs
When is National Umbrella Day?
February 10 is National Umbrella Day.
Should you cover your patio umbrella?
Yes. Never leave your patio furniture or umbrella exposed to the elements, especially during the winter. An article by “The Chicago Tribune” warns that umbrellas won’t last for more than one season if left uncovered outside the home.
How do you make an umbrella cover?
You can create your own DIY umbrella cover using waterproof fabric like a plastic tablecloth or a shower curtain, or you can dig in your closet to find an abandoned one leftover from an old umbrella purchase.
How To Celebrate Umbrella Cover Day
Cover your umbrellas
Umbrella covers are meant to protect your umbrellas. Use them for the purpose they were made for. Hunt down your umbrella covers and cover up your umbrellas to keep them safe from the elements. Bonus, they last longer this way!
Find a new use for your umbrella cover
Have some extra umbrella covers lying around with no more umbrellas for them to cover? Then go ahead and find another use for them. These decorative shields are often very strong (and a little waterproof too) so you can find multiple uses for them. Use them to store your garbage bags, plastic utensils, makeup, loose change, or even planters. You can even protect your pets’ ears by using umbrella covers as ear warmers.
Appreciate all the small things
How many of us remember where our umbrella cover is, let alone our umbrella? Today, we encourage you to bravely venture into those hidden corners of your closet and put the heretofore unknown things to good use (or at least recycle them). Go forth, appreciate, and upcycle!
5 Fun Facts About The Umbrella Cover Museum
The first of its kind
The Umbrella Cover Museum in the U.S. is the world's first and only umbrella cover museum.
It receives covers from around the world
By July 2015, this museum has received over 2,000 covers from 71 countries.
It's actually a house!
Founder Nancy 3. Hoffman turned her house into the site for the museum to showcase her collection of umbrella covers.
It’s in the Guinness World Records
Nancy 3. Hoffman's museum collection is the largest in the world.
This world record took time
Nancy 3. Hoffman spent five years applying to Guinness World Records to try for a world record — they finally created a new category for umbrella sleeves.
Why We Love Umbrella Cover Day
We get a newfound appreciation for umbrella covers
These poor, neglected accessories to the umbrella definitely need a day of recognition. We have been guilty of discarding them without a second thought the day after we buy a new umbrella. But, these amazing covers protect umbrellas from damage by moths and insects and help us carry wet umbrellas in our dry bags, along with a host of other uses. We see how they are useful now!
It reminds us that everything has a purpose
We look at umbrella covers as a metaphor for the little things in life. Celebrating this day is symbolic to us. We appreciate everyday items, things that might have been mundane before. We see their beauty, their function, and we make use of these whenever and wherever we can.
These covers are coming to you whether you ask for them or not. Almost every umbrella comes with a cover, and umbrella companies take this chance to spread awareness of their brand with the cover design. Instead of creating more waste for the planet by throwing it away or dumping it in the back of a closet, we are doing our part for the environment and choosing to upcycle the umbrella cover.
Umbrella Cover Day dates