Now that we have passed the fun and festivities of early winter, we are forced to deal with the rest of the season – the overcast, dreary portion of it, complete with bone-chilling wind, snow, and ice.
With days like these, it is a struggle for many of us to even get out of bed in the morning. Likely, though, our beds would not be nearly as comfortable if it weren’t for today’s word. So, let’s take a look at the duvet, an item that makes hitting the snooze button even more satisfying.
Whether, due to regional variations, you call it a duvet, comforter, doona, or a ralli quilt, our English term comes from the French word of the same spelling, which has its origin in the Old French word dum, meaning ‘down.’
First appearing in English via one of Samuel Johnson’s essays from The Idler, which was initially published in a 1759 edition of London’s Universal Chronicle, it was plainly stated that: “There are now to be sold..some Duvets for bed-coverings, of down.” Given, this may seem somewhat generic, but, before the advent of varied and synthetic materials, a duvet was a quilt that has been stuffed with either eider or swan’s down.
Historically, the duvet comes from the Viking Age and, geographically, it originated on the northern coast of Norway, meaning that, long before it became the luxury item that we know today, it was an item of necessity for survival in harsh climate.
By the 1500s, usage of these down quilts had spread throughout Europe, with the quality being considered a status symbol. For anyone who recollects H.C. Andersen’s 1835 story The Princess and the Pea, you may recall that the princess – showing her status – was lying on 10 eider-down duvets.
And until the early 20th century, the duvet kept its place as an expensive product. In 1841, The Times published a duvet advert, stating: “These elegant coverings are adapted for either the bed, the couch, or the carriage.”
And while by the 1950s, numerous store departments in the UK were selling duvets, it wasn’t until the home furnishings store Habitat opened in 1964, that duvets hit the mass market.
And thankfully, due to the rise of production methods, not only are duvets more affordable than before, but they are also being made for different seasons, so, no matter how cold the winter, there is always a duvet heavy or light enough to meet your personal needs.