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The Story Behind The Mexican Sombrero

What does “Sombrero” mean? If we would literally translate this word, we could say that sombrero means “shadower” or “a thing, that creates a ‘sombre’ – shadow.”  
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Sombreros are older broad-brimmed hats than cowboy hats but certainly are not older than some other versions. All populations that lived in very sunny areas and spent many hours in the Sun wear similar broad-brimmed hats. Older examples of this kind of hats are those that were worn by Chinese working in rice fields or Mongolian horsemen.

The origin of sombrero

Still, nobody really knows where Mexican sombrero hats came from. Some think that ‘mestizo’ - Mexican farmworkers invented them, others think that it came to Mexico with the horsemen from Guadalajara. All of these men had to protect themselves from the sun.

Regardless where this hat actually comes from, later Mariachi musicians and Mexican horsemen (named “charros”) wore a sombrero hat, as we know it today. Not only were sombreros part of their uniform, long-day sunny rides or entertaining the crowd could be very exhausting if there wouldn't have any protection from the sun. That’s why sombreros are specifically designed to create a shadow.

How it’s made

Because it is made out of light materials, it is light and proper hat in the warm climate. Originally sombreros were made of straw, some are handcrafted from white palm leaves that have been soaked to soften up, and others are made out of velvet. Depending on the material used, sombreros are differently priced. The materials and decorations could represent the status and wealth of the wearer.

Sombreros made for tourist are created from different materials. It is said that 30 to 40 thousand sombreros are made each year.

The essential part of Mariachi musicians

The sombrero dance or The Mexican Hat Dance is a traditional Mexican dance that represents a man’s courtship of a woman. The folk song played to accompany the dance is played either by mariachi bands or by bands playing only string instruments. By tossing a sombrero on the floor a man in love shows to the chosen woman that he is willing to give all of his possession to her in a return for her love.

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Where to buy a sombrero hat

OK, enough has been said about history, materials, cowboys, and musicians. Let's see where you can buy yourself an authentic Mexican sombrero hat. 

The best advice we can give you is to head on the streets and search for markets with traditional Mexican Clothing. Best markets in Mexico City are:

  • La Central de Abasto
  • El Bazar Sabado
  • Mercado de la Merced
  • La Ciudadela

Sombrero for children

Let's be realistic, chances you'll come from holidays wearing a sombrero to work are slim to none. But your child will be enormously happy if he can parade in a sombrero hat. Your child can wear his brand new sombrero hat for Halloween or a birthday party. Sombrero hats for children are pretty much the same as the regular ones, they come in different colors, they're just a bit smaller. 

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Mini sombrero

Street Mexican vendors are packed with mini sombreros because mini sombreros are a perfect and unique souvenir. And this perfect souvenir comes in many shapes and colors. You can buy a Mini Sombrero Straw Hat, Mini Sombrero for your dog, Mini Sombrero Hat Headband or even a Mini Sombrero Doll. There are plenty of options.

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