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.”

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 sombrero origin

Still, nobody really knows where Mexican sombreros came from. Some think that ‘mestizo’ - Mexican farm - workers invented them, others think that it came to Mexico with the horsemen from Guadalajara. All of these men had to protect their self from the Sun.

Regardless where this hat actually comes from, later Mariachi musicians and Mexican horsemen (named “charros”) wore sombrero, as we know it today. Not only sombreros were part of their uniform, long-day sunny rides or entertaining the crowd could be very exhausting if there would be no protection from the Sun. That’s why sombreros are specifically designed to create a shadow.

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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 hand crafted from white palm leaves that have been soaked to soften, and others are made out of velvet. Depending on the material 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.

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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. 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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