For my 30th birthday, my friend Louise gave me a very special gift: a clear, plastic umbrella. It was special because she had remembered that I had one as a child and that one of my favorite things to do was to stand under it in the rain, looking straight up at the sky to watch the raindrops smash into it and turn into little rivulets that would scatter all over its surface. My adult version is much larger and doesn’t have little drawings of raindrops around the fringe, but I still look forward to rainy days simply because I know I’ll get to use my umbrella.

The word umbrella is derived from the Greek word umbra, which means shade or shadow. Early examples of umbrellas or parasols can be traced back to the 11th Century, B.C., in China where they were seen as a sign of wealth, used mostly to shield aristocrats from the sun. There is also evidence that umbrellas were used in the same period in India. In ancient Egypt, too, the parasol was an indication of wealth.

So, in honor of April showers, I’ve gathered some lovely images of umbrellas in use. From above, they must look like a river of floating multi-colored flowers flowing down sidewalks. Umbrellas are useful, stylish, inventive and practical. They are, in a word, beautiful.

To read more about the history of umbrellas, click here




1. Aterriblehumanbeing.tumblr.com

2. Sarahing.tumblr.com

3. onemustcreate.tumblr.com

4. pretty.stuff.tumblr.com

5. travel.nationalgeographic.com


Andrew Ritchie is the creator of Martha Moments, a blog devoted Martha-Stewart related content and her community of supporters. He lives and works in Toronto, Canada, and has been a longtime friend of Brent & Josh, Beekman 1802 and Sharon Springs. Each week he’ll scour the world (wide web) to find the 5 most beautiful things to inspire you. Follow Andrew on Pinterest.



by Andrew

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Ken Newman

When I was in junior high school I admired John Steeds, ( The Avengers ), Fox steel tube umbrella with the Whangee grip . I also admired Mrs. Peel ( but that’s another story ). I never did acquire one though. At that time in my life my tastes were more Carnaby Street and less Savile Row. Thank you Andrew for dredging up an old, but fond, memory.

Teresa Jones

I love clear umbrellas for some of the same reasons, and as well “National Good News Day”…now that would be wonderful for a change wouldn’t it!!!

Susan Elwood

I learn something new every day. What a great idea to write about! Who knew an umbrella could be so interesting . Well apparently you! The photos you collected are beautiful!

Beverly Nan Murphy

It’s the simple things in life, isn’t it? Perhaps because we are 96%(?) water ourselves that it is a comfort. Parisienne umbrellas by Monet, Manet et al suggest cozy. Another water delight, swimming in it on a warm summer morning. THe gift is that many are able to note the charm of it and relish the exploration. Photos are frame able and lovely. Thank you.

Kate's Daughter

I once had an umbrella where the panels were alternating clear and white. It was a dome that came down over my shoulders. The intent was to look through the clear panel to see where you were going. Unfortunately, it didn’t come with wipers! LOL. I love umbrellas and have quite a collection, from rainbow, to Breast Cancer awareness pink, to Disney’s Old Key West, to the dignified black of business, to a small red one… you get the idea.