Veils are articles of clothing, worn almost completely by women, which cover some part of the head or face. For many centuries, Anglo-Saxon and then Anglo-Norman women, with the exception of young unmarried girls, wore veils that entirely covered their hair, and often their necks up to their chins. After the popularity of hoods, veils of this type became less common. For centuries, women have worn sheer veils, but only under certain circumstances. Sometimes a veil of this type was draped over and pinned to the bonnet or hat of a woman in mourning, especially at the funeral and during the subsequent period of 'high mourning'. They would also have been used, as an alternative to a mask, as a simple method of hiding the identity of a woman who was traveling to meet a lover, or doing anything she didn't want other people to find out about. More pragmatically, veils were also sometimes worn to protect the complexion from sun and wind damage, or to keep dust out of a women's face.
Different religions give guidance for the code of clothing with different level of importance. There are some religions, which allow individuals to choose the clothing for and by them; and there are religions which command their believers to strictly abide by the code which has been described to them. For instance; in Judaism and Christianity the concept of covering the head was associated with propriety and can be witnessed in all depictions of Mary the Mother of Christ, and was a common practice with Church-going women until the 1960s.
Among Christian churches which have a liturgical tradition, several different types of veils are used. These veils are often symbolically tied to the veils in the Tabernacle in the wilderness and in the Temple of Solomon. The purpose of these veils was not so much to obscure as to shield the most sacred things from the eyes of sinful men. Traditionally, in Christianity, women were enjoined to cover their heads in church, just as it was customary for men to remove their hat as a sign of respect (Jackie Freppon, the Unveiled Woman). According to St. Paul, "Any man who prays or prophesies with his head covered brings shame upon his head. But any woman who prays or prophesies with her head unveiled brings shame upon her head, for it is one and the same thing as if she had had her head shaved. For if a woman does not have her head veiled, she may as well have her hair cut off. But if it is shameful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, then she should wear a veil. A man, on the other hand, should not cover his head, because he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man. For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; nor was man created for woman, but woman for man; for this reason a woman should have a sign of authority on her head, because of the angels." (I Cor. 11:4-10 New American Bible translation). Therefore, St. Paul has clearly advised Christian women to cover their heads in the church (Jackie Freppon, the Unveiled Woman). In many traditional Eastern Orthodox Churches, and in some very conservative Protestant churches, the custom continues of women covering their heads in church. However, this restriction (as it is a limitation to the individual liberty) is not