Clothing Answers

Why do nuns wear a habit?


Nuns and sisters wear a habit as a sign of their consecration to God,to show their unity as a group and to demonstrate that fashion is nor important.
Not all nuns or sisters wear a habit. Canon law, which is the legislative authority within the Catholic Church, only states that they should wear a visible symbol of their consecration. Some nuns wear a lapel pin or a pendant.
The practice of wearing a habit comes from the idea that to avoid scandal or temptation they would wear clothes that avoid any display of human form. A coif (the large white starched linnen item worn by nuns across the chest) was to prevent the showing of the bustine.
 


In the middle ages, "clothes made the man." That is, one clothing revealed much about that person's station in life, one's profession, etc. This is still true in come countries today, but in the United States most people tend to dress pretty much the same. The difference would be in uniforms designating persons who fill certain tasks and are therefore given certain authority: police, airline pilots, etc.


A religious habit derives from the same motivation: to publicly show membership in a certain group. As noted above, that sign of membership may be as small as a pin or encompass one's whole wardrobe.
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