Sunday, November 16, 2014
The Beret (Boina) in Spain
The main Spanish regions where the use of the beret took hold are the Basque Country, Navarra, Asturias and Castilla. The ultra orthodox and conservative catholic Carlists were interestingly the ones who popularized the use of the beret; they could not have envisioned that it was specifically the workers who later made it their headgear of choice.
After the ending of the Carlist Wars, and especially from 1900, the beret gained popularity in Spain among artists, writers and bohemians, becoming an icon of the arts and a symbol of good taste and an "alternative" against the political and social stagnation of Spain at the time. During the Second
The advent of the Franco regime in 1939 put a big stop to much of Spanish culture; the “bohemian beret” disappeared as there were simply no bohemians left to wear it. It’s use was massive though throughout the Basque Country, Leon, Navarre, Castilia, Extremadura and by much of the Andalusian peasantry. In the years following, the beret became a symbol of rural, agricultural Spain. With the big urbanization in the 1960’s, berets increased in city life, but was still very much seen as a peasant symbol.
The agrarian revolution of the 1980s (with manual work being replaced by machinery) only speeded up the progressive abandonment of the beret. Berets became rare in the country and farmers had to travel to the city to buy a one; this resulted in the advance of the nylon American baseball cap, often given for free by the distributors of chemical fertilizers and machinery dealers.
And so, these days it is mainly the elderly who still hang on to their traditional beret; younger generations being hat-less or wearing the universal ball cap.