Thursday Trivia: Umbrellas

The Top 5 wasn’t seen yesterday because of my seeing the Shakespeare in the Park production of The Winter’s Tale; we’ll have it Friday along with the second Making Crap Up story, “6 Bits of Francisco Rodriguez Advice that Will Land You in Prison”.

…Now back to our scheduled trivia, not yet in progress…

Rihanna’s hit “Umbrella” was critically-acclaimed and ridiculously commercially-successful, one of the most-played songs on radio of its decade, and the third best song of 2007 according to Rolling Stone, but who would have thought that “Umbrella” would have formed the need for umbrellas?

While it was the #1 song in the UK and Ireland for 10 weeks (the longest a song would be at the top of the charts there in the 2000s), many regions of the Isles were hit by massive rainfall and extreme weather advisories were levied across the land – leading to some news outlets to call it “the Rihanna Curse”.

In an ironic (but unsurprising) twist of fate, Rihanna’s label, Def Jam Records, collaborated with umbrella (, ‘ella, ‘ella – sorry couldn’t help it) manufacturer Totes to create 5 umbrellas specially designed for Rihanna.

Four more bits of trivia on umbrellas after the jump!

  • While in the modern-day, umbrellas are more for the protection from the rain, etymologically speaking, it’s synonymous with parasols. “Parasol” comes from the Latin for, literally, “sun shield”, while “umbrella” comes ultimately from the Ancient Greek ομβρος, “shade”.
  • While umbrellas have been used as protection from the sun since the Ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, and Persians, the first use of umbrellas as protection from the rain was in (you guessed it) China. According to the venerable Wikipedia, umbrellas were brought when the Emperor went hunting to protect him from the rain.
  • However, it didn’t become popular to use an umbrella to protect from either the sun or rain until the mid-18th century.
  • For a product with such an ancient lineage, the umbrella is still being tinkered with to this day; in fact, the US Patent and Trademark Office employs four full-time patent examiners for umbrellas alone.

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