to Scarf or not to Scarf?

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May 11th, 2003, 03:53 PM
  #1
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to Scarf or not to Scarf?

Single female, wishing to respect the country she's traveling in... OK, I've tossed the t-shirts and the baseball caps. Something says if I want to be culturally sensitive those are the first things that have got to go.

But I'm wondering if I bring a scarf to replace that baseball cap. In India, I covered my head to enter a mosque (the scarf part of the Punjabi suit)... Is there a similar respect that should be shown when attending events or churches, monasteries, etc. in eastern europe?

Any other "non-obvious" items I should pack? I've remembered the duct tape (for posting home), the little plastic baggies, and extra batteries for my digital camera.

Thanks!
ChristinaD is offline  
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May 11th, 2003, 04:07 PM
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Hi, what countries are you visiting? I was in Italy and you could not enter a church with bare shoulders or short dresses. I draped a scarf around my shoulders and that was acceptable. I don't recall having that be an issue in any of the other countries I've been in (Germany, Austria, Switzerland, U.K.). As far as something not to forget to take - a corkscrew!
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May 12th, 2003, 03:42 AM
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In Orthodox churches and monasteries you should cover your shoulders, and wear pants or a longish skirt. No shorts or mini skirts or bare shoulders and upper arms. If you are not Orthodox yourself you don't have to cover your head, but the Orthodox women do when they enter a church.
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May 12th, 2003, 07:31 AM
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How does not wearing a baseball style cap show respect to a country? It's just a hat style. Are Europeans really offended by the type of hat or cap a person wears? I don't think they are that shallow.
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May 12th, 2003, 09:29 AM
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FYI-you'll have to buy a corkscrew in Europe or pack one in checked luggage. You can no longer carry one on the plane with you.
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May 12th, 2003, 09:46 AM
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You can go sleeveless in many churches in Italy....and a scarf to cover your head is not required.I always bring one with me just in case, for example , if you go to the Duomo in Milan, you must cover your shoulder.
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May 12th, 2003, 10:01 AM
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Where exactly are you going (both country and place) that you would think you need to wear a scarf? I don't understand what you are thinking about. Catholic women haven't had to cover their heads in churches for years and years, and even then it was for Mass, not otherwise (at least where I lived in the US, not sure if that is a country thing). I know a lot of Catholics are still fairly conservative in CR, for example, as you'll see nuns in the full habits, but women don't have to wear scarves on their heads just to go in a church, and nonCatholics really wouldn't.
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May 12th, 2003, 11:01 AM
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Hat story about the Vatican - my elderly friend with very short hair but with dangling earrings was wearing her hat to show respect for going into St. Peter's. The guard came up very forcefully and motioned for her to remove the hat. She did, but when he left she put it back on; he came back again. Obviously the man has a problem recognizing the difference between males and females. She has gotten a lot of mileage out of that story though.
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May 12th, 2003, 12:06 PM
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doesn't it seem strange that a man has to take his hat off to show respect but a woman has to put something on her head to do the same?
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May 13th, 2003, 12:39 AM
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Conformity may eliminate problems. Baseball caps and T shirts are accepted for general travel. Upscale restaurants will ban them. Business school advice - try environmental scanning. What are the locals wearing? Suggestion: carry a few band-aids.
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May 13th, 2003, 01:00 AM
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In relation to covering your head while in churches - actually it's considered rude to walk into a church with your head covered, whether you are male or female (in Italy and Spain I have seen signs in churches asking people to remove any head covering). The only exception for this is if you are wearing mantilla (the traditional catholic head covering for women), and even then, these are only usually used by people actually attending a service.

Clothing-wise it is always best to keep your shoulders, knees and (if possible, but not entirely necessary) elbows covered. In most cases you won't be prevented from entering a place a worship if you don't abide by this, but it shows respect. (I'm going to have a little rant about lack of respect in places of worship in a minute, but I won't do it as a reply to your post, as you seem like someone who wouldn't dream of being disrespectful! )

-- Viola
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May 13th, 2003, 02:18 PM
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I thought I was properly clothed for a Greek Orthodox monastery on Kalymnos last summer. However, when we arrived all of the women were asked to put wrap around skirts over our long pants. Had I not been with my Greek friend, a native of that island, I would have thought it something just done to foreigners. My friend was offended, because for other Orthodox churches or monasteries, long pants and elbow length sleeves suffice. Although there are varying levels of dress expected depending on location, in my experience, they are happy to supply the necessary items so that everyone can enjoy their religious places.
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May 15th, 2003, 03:28 PM
  #13
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Hi Everyone,
Thanks for your comments. From the diversity of replies, it appears it will come down to my best judgement.
Thanks,
Christina
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May 15th, 2003, 09:32 PM
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The rule is to always have a schmata with you.

Schmata is, by the way, Yiddish for "old rag", for those of you who are Yinglish (Yiddish words in English) impaired. An old scarf or shawl, for example, a schmata. You bring it with you in your backpack or purse and then you are prepared to cover whatever part of the anatomy needs covering according to whoever is enforcing his version of whatever religious rules.

I followed the schmata rule in Israel many years ago and was able to enter every shrine--Jewish, Christian or Muslim.

Take a schmata!
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May 15th, 2003, 09:43 PM
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I recently went to an 'all you can eat' East Indian buffet for lunch with three coworkers.

Talk about the definition of 'scarf'.
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Jul 16th, 2003, 03:03 PM
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If you wear a baseball cap, then you are American,with a scarf you are ether Turkish or Moslem. Choose....
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Jul 17th, 2003, 08:31 AM
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Hi Christina,

You might find a dual voltage battery charger helpful.
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Jul 17th, 2003, 10:35 AM
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Just to add .. our paper today (AZ Rep) just reported that the Vatican is clamping down on shorts, sleeveless blouses, etc. and forbidding entry. I have found in every country visited that it did not hurt me one iota to cover my shoulders and knees.. Plus.. a scarf - (we always used schmatta for a cleaning rag!).. preferably large is extremely useful for all kinds of stuff - not just as a coverup.. Yes, we can exercise our right to do whatever we want.. and "others" will then exercise their right to treat us as "barbarians"!! So.. what does it hurt to show respect as ChristinaD wants?? Have a great trip..
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Jul 17th, 2003, 12:17 PM
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The idea is, supposedly, to show humility in a place of worship. The old incarnation of the idea (at least in churches) was that men removed their hats, because these conveyed their social status and occupation, ,and women covered their hair, which was supposedly a source of vanity to them. Now everyone, it seems, is supposed to remove their headcovering in a church, the exception being mantillas or scarves.

I wouldn't worry, otherwise, about tee shirts, although collared tee shirts are usually considered a little more conservative than the uncollared type. For myself, outside of churches, I'm more worried about sensitivity to the sun, than to the culture. St. Paul said tis better to marry than to burn, but if you wear a sunhat, you need do neither. : - )

Enjoy your trip.
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