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Ushanka hats - What are they?
Ushanka hats are traditional, Russian winter fur hats with ear flaps that can either be tied up at the top or dropped down and tied under the chin. When the ear flaps are down the hat offers protection to the ears, chin and the back of the neck from cold winds.
The Ushanka gets its name from the ear flaps. Shapka-ushanka translates literally from Russian as "ear-flaps hat". "Shapka" being the Russian word for hat and "ushi" meaning "ears". It is often referred to as a Shapka, a Ushanka, a cossack hat or just a Russian hat.
For hundreds of years, these hats have been tested by Russians to withstand their harsh winters and in 1940 the ushanka become part of the Russian army and police uniform. As practically all men at the age of 18 serve in the army due to conscription, the Ushanka has been well and truly tested!
Traditionally Ushanka hats were made from rabbit fur or the fur from squirrels, foxes and even mink! Although it was only the Russian middle class, that had hats made from the more expensive furs like fox and mink and many were made from artificial fur. Army officers had hats made from sheepskin.
Since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, Russian winter hats became popular for the first time outside of Russia because of their warmth and are now very popular in the UK. As our winters are unlikely to be as severe as a Russian winter, you rest assured that a Russian Cossack Ushanka hat will keep you warm .