The Ushanka: A Winter Gift From the Slavics

Greetings, readers! It's time for our very first Our World post! Hope you enjoy as I give you a little background history and story of a hat that many of you are probably familiar with...

The ushanka is famous for its fur ear flaps.
These make it very nice for the winter!
Chances are, you've either worn or have seen an ushanka before.

It sounds like a strange word, but in reality we use lots of ushankas, all over the world. Pronounced "Ooo-shank-ah", most of us who have ever spent time in the cold have worn one.
When folded up, the ushanka becomes the classic military hat we're all familiar seeing in Cold War movies.

The countries the ushanka came from, marked with
red X's for your convenience. ;)
The ushanka originated from fur hats with ear flaps on them that came from some of the Slavic countries- mainly Russia, Ukraine, Serbia, Slovenia, Croatia, Macedonia, Bulgaria and Germany. (Which, obviously, Germany is not a Slavic country but it's the only none Slavic country on this list so we'll just excuse my slight erratum.) ;) Most people think of Russia and the Soviet Union when they think of the ushanka, and rightly so. The ushanka became a symbol by the rest of the world of the Soviet Union. Everyone associated the famous fur hat as a Soviet icon.

November, by Joachim von Sandrart.
Hats with fur flaps have been around for centuries, the predecessors to the ushanka. Like in this old painting, November, from 1643 by Joachim von Sandrart, you can see that the German hunter is wearing a fur hat with the ear flaps down. These ear flaps became crucial to the Slavics during wartime and winter, to keep their heads warm and safe from the cold.

Now some of you may be familiar with the Cossacks from my story, Fourteen Cossacks. They too, wore big fur hats, but there's didn't have ear flaps. Those hats are called papahkas, but that's a story for another time.

A Soviet soldier wearing an ushanka.
The "ushanka" itself didn't emerge until the twentieth century. It was actually created by the Finns during the Winter War. Their version of the fur hat was called a turkislakki m36, and was the inspiration of the later Soviet army ushanka that was created after WWII. Since then, the ushanka has been widely used by the former Soviet Union, the now Russian federation, the Chinese and the North Koreans.

As someone who has owned two ushankas and have used other ones, I can personally testify that I love these fur hats from the Slavic countries. My brown ushanka has been my favorite winter hat on record, and I currently am using my black ushanka as a substitute for a Cossack papahka.

From the early medieval times to now, the ushanka has gone through many changes, but it is still one of the best winter hats in the world. We can thank the Eastern Europeans for their invention that has kept many skiers and winter lovers heads warm. :)
Me in my ushanka. I have the imperial eagle symbol
pinned in front instead of what should have been
the more historically accurate and used pin
of the hammer and syckle. I can't afford a papahka yet,
though, so we'll just go with an ushanka. ;)


  1. Very interesting Emily. They look warm and cozy! Since you are so interested in Russian things I was about to ask you if your ancestors came from Russia...but then I remembered your last name which is pretty obviously Celtic. So, what did got you interested in Russian life and culture?

    1. Wow...-_- I meant "did get you interested".

    2. Hahahaha Lydia I think you're the first person who noticed I have a Celtic last name. ;) McConnell is Irish Gaelic for "The Valiant Wolf" but it's also a Scottish name. To tell you the truth, I do NOT have any ancestry. Seriously. My family's ancestry begins and ends with my parents and us. I can for sure tell you I'm quarter Mexican, but the rest of the nationalities are open ended and we have no way to tell for sure which ones we are. But we're pretty sure we are Irish, Swedish and Norwegian, and of course we know Mexican. So basically I'm an Irish Mexican Viking. ;)

      The reason I got so interested in Russian life and culture is kinda a funny story. When I moved to Washington I moved to an area where Russian is the second language. Not kidding, the Slavics are the second population where I live, so I hear everything in English and Russian. :) But when I moved here I got asked a handful of times if I was Russian, which made me wonder about our Russian community and I began to research them. Pretty soon I was fascinated with Russia and I began to learn a ton. So that's how I became fascinated. ;)

      Thanks for commenting! :) I'm so glad you enjoyed this post!

    3. Very interesting Miss Irish Mexican Viking/Valiant Wolf! :D Thanks for answering my question. I think your story of getting interested in Russian life and culture is fascinating. It sounds like you have a special chance to get your information with some authenticity!

      Sincerely~Someone who has an even more obviously Celtic last name than you...but one with a much less interesting meaning.

    4. Hahahaha Scott, yes, very Celtic. :) What does Scott mean in Gaelic, I'm curious? My mother's original last name was Enström, which is Swedish for "the pine tree by the river". I love both names. :) Names are so cool!

      Thanks for commenting! Yes, I do feel blessed to be able to talk to the Slavics and learn history through them, versus reading it everywhere. They're pretty nice people. :) Hope you have a wonderful and blessed day!

    5. Believe it or not Scott means "a person from Ireland". -_- They try to keep this on the down-low though. Names are very cool!

    6. Oh that is hilarious! Haha I will have to tell my Scottish friends this one. ;) They're constantly going on and on about how awesome they are because they're Scottish/English/Canadians. I always happen to remind them that my ancestors ruled theirs. B-) It's funny. They're actually from Scottish royalty, though, which is fun. Thanks for telling me about that interesting bit of information! I like that name... Scott... :)

  2. This was really interesting! Thanks for the post, Emily! :) When we lived in WA, I remember that we would wear these. In KS. . .not so much. ;)

    1. Hehe yeah I can imagine why you don't wear these in Kansas. ;) They are really great hats. I LOVE my ushankas. :) Thanks for commenting! Glad you enjoyed!

  3. I LOVE HISTORY!!! Thanks for the post Emily...very interesting. ;)

    1. Hmmm I noticed you liked history... ;) Like, a LOT of history. British history especially... ;) Glad you enjoyed the post!

  4. That's really cool! I've been wanting one of those for a while now.
    I guess, since I now know so much about them, I'll have to get myself one for this winter. ;)
    That was a really interesting post. I can't wait to see what else you'll post about "Our World"! :D

    1. Oh, you should get one, Megs! You will LOVE your ushanka! Just make sure it fits. ;) I have one that doesn't really fit and it hurts my head. They do stretch, though, so that's good. Glad you enjoyed the post and I can't wait to post some more in "Our World" either! :D

  5. Wow, I learned a lot in this post! :) My brother has a ushanka-style hat, but I didn't know what it was called until today. ;)
    Thanks so much for the post, Emily!

    1. You're welcome! It's always fun to learn something new, huh? I only learned recently what the hat was called, and I've had one for years. I always thought they were Russian fur hats, I had no idea they came from so many countries. :)

      Glad you enjoyed! Thanks for commenting!


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