Keeping Your Scarf On in Church

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Al-Hannah sells a pretty lacy al-amirah hijab that I think an Orthodox Christian could reasonably use as a headcovering.  My thought is that a non-Muslim woman might wear the larger part of the covering on the back of the head, rather than surrounding the face.

How would this work?  The front section, the part on the forehead, is completely separate from the larger covering section.  You put it on first — around your head, above the eyebrows and ears — and it helps to keep whatever you put on second from slipping off your head.  After you have this first part around your head, you could eschew the larger part altogether and tie a regular scarf on in whatever way you usually prefer.  Or you could use the longer tube thing, the second part of the al-amira headcovering, as a back-of-the head scarf.  

If you’re reading this and you’re not an Orthodox Christian, you’ll find a discussion here (and here) at Monachos.net about the practice of covering your head in church. 

(photo credit to Josh Parrish)

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14 thoughts on “Keeping Your Scarf On in Church

  1. I’ve always covered my head in church. I grew up in ROCOR where it was de rigeur but it was everything from voluminous scarves, chiffon scarves,mantillas, hats, berets, etc. I don’t really understand why some Orthodox women want to cover up like nuns or even for a second be mistaken for Muslims.

  2. Oh, I don’t think they should! Not at all! I’ve always worn hats and snoods (lacey ones, not the ones Orthodox Jewish women wear, some of those look like elasticated tea-towels!) but I’d hate to see a Christian or Orthodox uniform, that’s what I meant by listing the various headcoverings we used to have (there’s an evangelical group in my town where the women all have long straight hair and wear itty-bitty triangle scarves), and I definitely think we shouldn’t look as if we’re emulating Muslims. There are non-Muslim women in London, and more in some areas of France, wearing headscarves just to avoid harassment from Muslim youths in public housing sectors and that bothers me. Cool headgear, however, I am all for.

  3. I have “covered” at church for nearly thirty years (since I converted, in other words). My understanding, though, is that the head covering should be simple and plain, rather than a fashionable “accessory” such as those I see featured on this website. Some of these head coverings are attractive as garments, but the ornateness and/or “fashionableness” conflicts with the spirit of modest simplicity, which is what I always have understood to be the core of Orthodox women’s clothing. (No, I am not advocating the “denim-and-work-boot-‘Little House on the Prairie’ ” style unjustly lampooned by many.)

    At any rate, this is a potentially interesting blogsite, and I shall enjoy reading more here. Best wishes to you!

  4. Thanks for your note, AC. I actually agree with you. It’s my love of adornment that draws me to these other coverings, like a moth to flame. It doesn’t speak well of me.

    My ideal covering for church wear is the simpler ‘grand coiffe’ type scarf. Most of the time lately, that’s the one I wear during services. (though I just misplaced mine; am searching for it!)

    But since I wear headcoverings nearly all the time (I just prefer it, really — I can’t say we all should do this!), I allow myself latitude in my non-services headgear.

    Pray that I find the strength to become more modest and simple all of the time!

    Thanks for stopping in, AC. God’s blessing to you!

  5. Hi Kristin, I wrote you about headcoverings and colors a month or so ago. (I decided on dk. blue for the GReat Fast)

    I really do like your headcovering articles, they’re so cool! Since I wear them to church too, I’ve had to really guard against the temptation of vanity by deliberately choosing plain scarves that don’t draw too much attention. Of course, that’s not to judge you or anyone else, because vanity may not be a problem for you as it is for me.

    Muslim women wear their scarves for slightly different reasons than a Christian might. For us it may be more about pleasing God than modesty per se, but for them it’s more about modesty and sexual attractiveness. Women beyond childbearing aren’t expected to cover as much.

    I come from a headwrapping culture so scarves for church are worn in a style totally different from what I’d ever wear outside of church to remind myself that I’m in church. Regardless, I avoid looking like a Muslim woman because that could be upsetting.

    In some Orthodox churches (Greek, Romanian) women don’t wear scarves out of rebellion to former muslim cultural influences, but I wonder what did a Christian woman in Cyprus does if she truly feels that wearing a headcovering is the correct spiritual behavior? Does she not wear it and cave into cultural beliefs?

    Kristin, is there a reason why your cover outside of church too? Just curious. I notice that when I get into a certain mood,I automatically cover my head, but I haven’t figured out why that is.

    Keep it up, Kristin!

    Blessings,
    Mary

  6. Some Christian women (mostly of various Protestant leanings) cover their heads outside church for various reasons — they may believe that 1 Corinthians 11:4-16 mandates it and/or that headcovering during prayer is good and prayer should be constant so constant covering is good.

    I want to say quite clearly that I don’t know why I cover my head! I guess it’s really just a preference. I do feel different when I do it __ I associate it with a more spiritual state of mind — my hat or scarf helps me keep that feeling…

    Possible reason #2: my husband likes my hair long, but so many long hairstyles are hard to keep looking tidy — hats help.

    Possible reason #3: wearing hats has helped as I’ve grown out my bangs!

    I know of a couple of Orthodox women who cover all the time — the article by Elsabet, “On Account of the Angels,” (http://tinyurl.com/yunvw6) is wonderful. I like this part: St Cyril of Alexandria, commenting on I Corinthians, wrote: “The angels find it extremely hard to bear if this law [that women cover their heads] is disregarded.”

    I mean, it just tickles me. Maybe I should be covering for that reason alone.

    I like what you say here, Mary: “I’ve had to really guard against the temptation of vanity by deliberately choosing plain scarves that don’t draw too much attention.” I definitely DO have a problem with vanity, and I have definitely erred in wearing coverings that are too ‘Out There’ or decorative to church. I am trying to improve and go plainer for services. Outside church, I give myself more latitude — I’m not a nun, after all — but I do think aiming toward more plainness is a good goal.

    Step by step. :-)

    Thanks for writing, Mary!

  7. I think perhaps wearing one reminds me of my humility before the greatness of God when in the church.
    (I still wash & style it underneath though!)

  8. For the record, I have officially decided that my reasons for covering my head most of the time are more religious than vainglorious. Since I do vary my coverings and am very interested in dress, this part is a struggle for me. If you know me, you know what I’m talking about! (yep, I think it probably would be more virtuous if I wore the same covering all the time, but I doubt that will happen soon)

    I admire Sarah Elisabet Oftedal, house-mother of the Martha and Mary Home, who covers her hair all of the time. I could do much worse than emulate her! For what it’s worth, I have met (in real life and online) other Orthodox Christian women who cover all, or nearly all, of the time.

    And as I’ve said above, I do like dressing so that I could step into a church or onto the grounds of a monastery at a moment’s notice. If modest dress is appropriate for a monastery, what makes it inappropriate outside a monastery?

  9. Would you like to tell me what make you hate Muslim women?u are working toward a noble task…covering head, so do muslim women, they fear God and to please God they cover their heads.Would you mind sharing with me that why do you “avoid looking like a Muslim woman because that could be upsetting”. Your God is exactly the same as Muslim’s God…!!He is the only Creator…

  10. Muslimwomen, I can’t speak for the other writer, I don’t think she said anything about ‘hating’ Muslim women, truly. I think she just wants to look like what she is, an Orthodox Christian woman. It seems reasonable. Best wishes and God bless,

    Kristin of Kristinsdottir

  11. I find it amazing that christians also cover their head when going to church… and I admire your spiritual reasons to why you cover your hear most of the time. May God bless you :)
    One of my chrsitian friends told me that she always sees Saint Mary’s pictures and statues with covered hair… That made me think, that’s something common between modest women who believe in God including Muslim, Christian and Jew women.
    Modesty is the BEST! :) GOD Bless…
    I think it doesn’t matter what religion we have, we all share a common goal-> Modesty
    I’m Muslim by the way, and thanks for creating this blog! :D

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