For anyone who who wears or has worn a mantilla or any kind of veil, no doubt, the veil has caused memorable (or not so menorable), humorous, awkward, embarrassing and or moments of learning that you look back on with fond or not so fond memories. Here are a few of my memorable mantilla moments.
Russian Orthodox Divine Liturgy
Baby Proof Headscarf?
When attending a Russian Orthodox Liturgy I forgo the mantilla and choose to wear a normal scarf that I rap around my head. This, unfortunately, is not a baby or toddler proof method of wearing the headscarf. In fact, I learned that it could be hazardous to my health. Let me explain. I was holding a toddler that desperately wanted to be held by someone else other than her mother. So I picked her up and held her for about ten minutes before she wanted to be back with mom. As I was handing her back to mom the toddler decided that she would attempt to take my headscarf with her. Instead of the headscarf being taken off of my head, I instead found myself gasping for air and choking. The panic only lasted a few seconds while I desperately pulled the ends of my headscarf loose from the toddlers grasp. Don’t ever rap the ends of the your headscarf around your neck if you know that you will be holding toddlers…
Pascha (Easter) in the Russian Orthodox Church is an experience that one will not forget. Everyone stands, the congregation is packed in like sardines, and everyone has a lit candle. If you’re like me and your worst fear is being burned alive in a building, then Russian Orthodox Pascha might be a little intimidating at first when you realize how much of a fire hazard it is. Of course, your fears are not soothed when your friend says, “It isn’t Pascha without the smell of someone’s hair burning…” No less than 5 minutes after my friend said this I almost set my headscarf on fire… on my friend’s lit candle…
The Catholic Mass
The Elephant in the Chapel
I rarely attend Mass with AU CSA (American University Catholic Student Association) because it is starts late on Sunday night and don’t live any where close to campus. So, the one time that I decided to attend Mass at AU I also resolved that I was going to wear one of my mantillas even though no else wore one. For safe measures I decided to take my tan colored mantilla with me so that it would blend in better with my blond hair. I arrived at the Kay Spiritual Life Center, donned my mantilla and walked into the chapel. I was not expecting the reaction I would receive. Everyone went quiet and stopped what they were doing while a tense atmosphere hung over the chapel as I walked to an unoccupied pew. I felt everyone’s eyes locked and staring at the back of my head as I made my way to the very spot. Awkward….
“Are You From Syria?”
One Sunday I decided to attend Mass at St. Matthew the Apostle Cathedral (Catholic) in Farragut North. The mantilla I ordered had not arrived yet so I decided on wearing a black and gold silk scarf that I had in place of a mantilla. Upon arrive at the Cathedral for Mass I placed the scarf on my head before walking and taking my place. During Mass no one looked twice at my wearing a black scarf in lieu of a mantilla except for the for the young woman behind me. At the end of Mass she asked me, “Are you from Syria?” I asked her to repeat the question. She asked again, “Are you from Syria?” I looked at her in amazement. She quickly amended her question with, “Just that some Christian women in Syria wear a headscarf during church…” I responded with, “My ancestors are from Europe. Syrian Christians are not the only ones who cover during church.”
I think this one is one of my favorite mantilla stories. One day I decided I would on an afternoon outing to the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception at CUA (Catholic University of America) for Holy Benediction, Mass and to pray the rosary in the Grotto. For this particular outing I decided to bring my pure white Spanish mantilla with me. I went down to the crypt of the Basilica, donned my mantilla and entered the crypt church. I participated in Holy Benediction and when Holy Benediction was over an older Filipino lady, who was also wearing the mantilla, came over and asked me if I was over 3o years old and if I would like to sit with others my age. I was really confused. Was there some unspoken cultural rule about only women 3o years of age or older were allowed to wear a white mantilla? I knew that some married Catholic women chose to wear a black mantilla to signify that they were married. After Mass I sent a text to a friend to ask if it was appropriate for a young, single, woman to wear a white mantilla to Mass. He text back saying that it was typical for unmarried women to wear a white mantilla to Mass. I think the lady was looking for people to join the 20s and 30s group…
This indecent took place this morning while attending Mass at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Peachtree City, GA. This morning I decided I would wear my black and gold lace mantilla that I had bought for the holidays. The mantilla is beautiful and looked wonderful with the simple outfit I was wearing. After I found my spot in a pew and said my pre-Mass prayers, I noticed that a family with a daughter and teenage son were about to take their place next to me. I saw the son switch places with his sister so the he could sit next to me. I didn’t think much of it until the greeting and the peace offering. Both times the son was very eager to be the first one to shake my hand and he kept looking at me. I thought it was odd, I was at least six years older than the kid. I considered moving my graduation ring from my right hand to my left hand so that he would think that I was married. But I didn’t. Then it was time for the Eucharistic prayers. He kept steeling glances at me. Then came time to say the Lord’s Prayer. He took my hand, like everyone else in the church, and we started to recite the prayer. At the end of the prayer he squeezed my hand harder than necessary and he looked at me once again. I ignored him. After taking communion and taking my place in the pew, I noticed that the son was now sitting in between his father and mother while his sister was sitting next to me. Apparently the mantilla didn’t keep this boy from flirting and or it caused the flirting… I think he was desperate for a good Catholic girl in a town that has very few Catholics.