Religious forms of clothing have existed in its various forms since the origin of Christianity. Christian apparel depends on the kind of person wearing it. People of the religious order like nuns, monks and clergymen have separate official attire to identify them from the rest of the mass. These attires are usually in black or white and cloak like in form. White and black color predominate Christian apparel on all religious occasions. People in mourning and during funerals wear black, while in weddings or other auspicious ceremonies white is worn. Both colors are symbolic in their own way and have their spiritual importance attached to it. While white is symbolic of purity and chastity, black is the color of repentance. Black cloaks and robes are however worn by nuns and monks of a certain hierarchical status as a symbol of one’s devotion and service for life to God.
The concept of Christian apparel was also introduced as a policy to dictate one’s status and influence amongst his peers. Separate clothing for the church is indicative of cleanliness and pride for one’s own religion. Church clothing by Christians are set aside for regular Sunday masses as per the regulations of dress code sometimes set down by certain churches. The cavalry chapel was the first to adopt this form of Christian clothing.
In the 20th century, Christian apparel by the clergymen was abandoned to denote equality among laymen and those engaged in church vocations. It was to reduce the perceived gap that had gradually widened over the years. Separate clothing for nuns and monks however continue to exist even today. Certain sects like the Anabaptist and Eastern Orthodox communities among Christians require them to wear a head-covering garment by all, during religious services and gatherings.
Christian apparel for those belonging to the religious order too has variations to denote their rank or position. For example, the clothing that nuns wear is called habits. There are various stages of service in one’s life before one permanently becomes a nun. People new to this vocation are called novices and are required to wear different colored clothing. In countries of Western Europe and USA, novices wear white attire. Modifications are made at the various stages. During the final stage of a novice or when one becomes a nun officially, they wear apron like head covering garment. The catholic order or type of convent also determines the color of a nun’s Christian apparel. Wearing a chain with a cross pendant is mandatory for all Christians. Veils are no longer worn by nuns in the present day, but during the middle ages, the belief that nuns were brides of Christ was prevalent. Hence they wore white veils. However, the tradition of white veil worn by brides during wedding ceremonies continues to exist. Christian apparel, especially those worn by laymen are not about dressing up or to be too orthodox. Outlooks have changed and people are expected to be in clean and comfortable clothing keeping with the color code at religious occasions.
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