Papal camauros are of red wool or velvet with white ermine trim and are worn, usually in winter, in place of the zucchetto, which in turn takes the place of the biretta worn by other members of the clergy. Like the biretta worn by lower clergy and the mortarboard worn by academics, the camauro derives from the academic cap (the pileus), originally worn to protect tonsured clerical heads from the cold. It is often worn with a shoulder winter cloak (mozzetta), also sometimes fur-lined.
The camauro has been part of the papal wardrobe since the 12th century. Until 1464, it was also worn by cardinals, without the ermine trim; from that date, the camauro became exclusively a papal garment and cardinals wore the scarlet biretta instead. The papal camauro fell into disuse after the death of Pope John XXIII in 1963, but it was revived in December 2005 by Pope Benedict XVI. Benedict's wearing the hat prompted comparisons to Santa Claus and Father Christmas in the media ; St. Nicholas Thaumaturgos, who became the legendary Santa Claus, was bishop of Myra.