A kippah is a garment usually worn by Jewish men on their heads during prayer. It is a round-shaped piece of cloth, coming in various colors and beautifully decorated with Jewish motifs (or even not decorated at all). In the more Orthodox branches of Judaism it is a customary requirement for men to have their heads covered when praying. Such a requirement used to be asked of women as well, but no longer nowadays.
The historical foundations of wearing the kippah are the Ramban and the Halacha. In previous centuries, it was common for men to wear the kippah even outside the synagogue, in order to be able to be distinguished from the non-Jews.
Jewish religious authorities claim that the wearing of the kippah has taken the force of a law due to the fact that it was perceived by the majority as an act of Kiddush Hashem (which refers to actions which are meant to honor God). Thus, the Talmud advises one to cover his head in order to have ”the fear of heaven” upon himself. However, according to the Sephardic authorities, the wearing of the kippah has only a mild impact, as it is perceived by them as a soft manifestation of devotion.
It is common for young boys to be asked to wear a kippah from an early age in order to become accustomed to it and familiar with its meaning and implications for his future life. There are even small kippahs designed for newly-born to be worn in a brit milah ceremony.
Nowadays, the design and fabric used in the production of a kippah have changed radically. They come in all sorts of fabrics, more austere or rather lavish, in all colors (including the colors of football teams) and in different sizes. A larger kippah is an indicator of a more traditional person, whereas a small kippah indicates a rather liberal person. The color of the kippah is also an indicator of the branch of Judaism one belongs to.