Alan Mays

Alan Mays

Posted on 05/18/2015

Photo taken on May 18, 2015

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black cats
straw hats
May 13
May 25
felt hats
bad luck
Straw Hat Day

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May 25th, Unlucky for Felts

May 25th, Unlucky for Felts
Straw Hat Day, when it was customary for men to put away their winter felt hats and don their summer straw hats, used to be a widespread tradition in the United States during the month of May.

The exact date for this seasonal switch from "felts" to "straws" differed from place to place, with May 13, May 15, May 25, or the second Saturday in May variously cited as the appropriate day to begin wearing straw hats. On some campuses, Straw Hat Day was a student celebration, and in other areas, it was an opportunity for clothiers and hatters to promote their wares.

Someone created this card with an unlucky black cat as part of a Straw Hat Day observance, but I'm not sure how it was used. See below for excerpts from newspaper ads and articles that confirm that Straw Hat Day was "unlucky for felts."

For more straw hat amusement, see It's Mallory Straw Hat Time!


"Unlucky? Are you superstitious? May 13th, unlucky for felts. Straw Hat Day. Get yours at the Co-op. $2.50--$3.00--$3.50--$4.00. Technology Branch, Harvard Co-operative Society...." Advertisement, The Tech (Cambridge: Massachusetts Institute of Technology), May 12, 1924, p. 4.

"Official Straw Hat Day. Wednesday, May 13th. Unlucky for felts! Select your straw hat now and be ready for the big day. New straws are now on display. See the windows tonight, then visit your favorite clothier tomorrow for a fitting. Don't be under a felt when Wednesday the Thirteenth dawns." Advertisement for clothiers, Lawrence Daily Journal-World, May 8, 1925, p. 10.

"Tomorrow, Thursday the 13th, will be 'unlucky for felts.' Tomorrow has been designated 'Straw Hat Day' and 'hay hats' will be all the rage and felts taboo. Even the black cat shown above [in an accompanying illustration] is reaching for a straw 'skimmer' and promises bad luck to all wearers of felt hats." "13th to Be 'Unlucky for Felts,'" San Jose News, May 12, 1937, p. 7.

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Your beautiful capture was admired in Historical & Architectural Gems.
3 years ago.