Veil Colors

An older Catholic friend insists that there are strict traditional veil colors for those who veil, namely white for single women, ivory for marrieds, and black for widows. She was very offended by my wearing a black veil. (I’m happily married). I switched to wearing an ivory veil in her presence so as not to offend her, but now I am rethinking this. Perhaps I am perpetuating something that is just a myth. Can anyone shed some light in this area? She was raised Catholic in Korea.

Thank you,

I was told it “was” white if you’re unmarried, black if you’re married. Having said that, I’ve never had a actual person at mass ever comment about the color of my mantilla. I always wear black and I’m married.

There may be strict regulations in someone’s mind, but the Church has never made such a requirement.

Actually, the Church never required veils for the laity. All that was required was that women & girls cover their heads. It could be with a hat, a scarf, a veil, or a Kleenex, if it was all you had.

Traditionally speaking, I heard that it was white for unmarried girls and black for married, but really, the color does not matter. I’ve seen brown, red, black, white, gold, and I personally wear and love my cream-colored veil. Some match colors to the liturgy, others, to their clothes or hair. Maybe they just really love that color. All of these are reasons why women pick their veil(s) colors. :stuck_out_tongue: But it really does not matter these days what color you wear.

I’ve heard that, traditionally, singled wear white and marrieds wear black. All the new colors are new from what I understand. I’ve never heard that widows wear black. In my church, I’ve seen marrieds wear white, singles wear black, and every color in between. My favorite that I’ve seen is black lace with gold flowers. It’s georgous. I’m married and I wear black but mostly because it matches my black dress skirt. Perhaps this woman’s culture is more particular?

My mother told me that white is for unmarried women and that black is for married women. She wears black veils because of this. Perhaps it was strict in Korea, but at my parish the tradition isn’t followed by every family.

Whether a woman is married or single, white is fine if you happen to like that color, as long as it’s not worn at a wedding. There should only be one woman in a white veil at a wedding and that is the bride. Most women don’t have the complexion to wear white so close to their face all the time, so I see a lot of young women (single) wearing veils and scarves in colors to match what they are wearing.

I’m just glad to see them making a come back!! My wife wears black and black and copper and she informed me she needs a white one. I know several married women wearing black, mauve, white, purple, teal, floral…I could go on. Suffice to say, wear what you like IMHO.

As long as one doesn’t wear white to a wedding…unless they happen to be the bride :smiley:

A friend of mine does that. :slight_smile:

I wear black and am single. I never knew about the color codes but don’t think the color is so important now. I can’t find my white veil.

I had thought black would go best during the pre-Easter season due to its seriousness. I thought white would be a happier color for Easter, Christmas, etc.

do they have a color for divorced? :smiley:

Veils by Lily has this:

*I’m new to veiling. Is there a meaning behind veil colors? *

Traditionally, married women would wear black or darker colors and unmarried women, white or lighter colors. However, since chapel veils are just now coming back, there are really no hard and fast rules to follow. In some churches I’ve been to, some women wear veils to match their outfit, others wear colors they have simply decided they like, etc. In parishes where few women veil, it is common for women to want to wear something that blends in with their hair. Often, women will save the more special-looking veils for feasts of the church. A more recent trend some women are starting is that of matching their veils to liturgical colors.

I would go with whatever accessorizes best :smiley:

In conjuring this thing from the past, for those of us who remember it for having lived it, there were indeed in some cultures (mine included) with customs regarding how to dress and the different stages of life of a woman and what was “expected” and what was showing “propriety”…for all situations.

These conventions could be, as you have discovered, quite ferociously clung to by certain individuals of such generations. My mother and grandmother, who have been gone so long they would have to be one, two or three generations removed from your older friend, were the polar opposite. They did not wear a mantilla ever…although my mother owned one or had been given one; she and her mother used other head-covering. Even after my grandmother was a widow.

Certainly they would never have used the verb “to veil.” It was just not a term used for laywomen. Nuns and Sisters wore wimples and they wore veils. The colour and the length and the cut would have their own meanings…novices wore one colour of veil and professed wore a different colour, for example…those in temporary vows could have one length of veil while those in perpetual vows could have a different length. Or else the veils would have some other modification that gave these indications. All this was determined by their order/congregation.

On the other hand from your friend there were those who, far from clinging to that tradition, flung those conventions as far as possible, and with exuberance, at the first opportunity. My mother and grandmother were of that number. Literally. I remember when my mother abandoned the practice…and she did so with profound satisfaction and no looking back. She had no use for it.

These mores were much more cultural than ecclesiastical. They certainly shouldn’t have any significance at all in the 21st century…since you have Carmel in your name, you could wear the colour of the Carmelite habit, if you were of a mind to do so. You can quite legitimately wear black.

The use of mourning and the hanging of Victorian bunting, with all its prescriptions and meanings, was set aside long before the last of even the Victorians had died.

My mom says she never wore a veil. She wore hats. Same with my grandmother. The hat would cooridinate with their dress. My mother in law says in her hometown they all covered their heads with the rebozo they wore. Many older ladies still do in their town. They simply bring it from their shoulders over their head when entering the church. Most women (50’s-60’s and below) no longer use a rebozo or cover there heads at all. Traditions probably varied regionally even here in the US.

Wearing a Rebozo:

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I thought black was for widows in some cultures?

Thank you for this Father.
You covered it quite well.
My mama and I had many many mantillas, as we wore them in the American Southwest as a cultural thing. I thought they were pretty in my teens, and I remember as a child being stuck with that dang Kleenex on my head if I forgot my mantilla at home for Mass.
I too, never looked back though.
My sister is still enamored of them, however. :shrug:
I agree the term “veiling” should not be used by laypersons. God bless the good sisters!


Back when I was little, the colors had significance, but not today, because it is optional to cover your head. There are other thing that are interesting to know about wearing a chapel veil too from years ago.

I wore a chapel veil, but it was a small circle of white lace that fit into a pouch. I sometimes wonder why today we only see mantillas and not doily size chapel veils even on children for those who chose to wear a veil.

Of course I had a mantilla, and so did my grandmother as she was old school italian. But I also have my first communion missal from then, and there is a picture of the congregation in it. Perhaps only one or two had a mantilla.all orhers had the small chapel veils.
Or kerchief or hat

And in school, no one in my class wore a mantilla either. Just white little chapel veil, and this was in a famous itaila section of nyc.
I don’t think you can get anymore old school then this place , and the tradition was small chapel veils for children. I don’t know if many realize this, so when people want to carry on traditions to what was, mantillas were not as popular as the smaller veils, unless your family had this custom.