Duvets originated in rural Europe and were made from the down feathers of the eider duck, known for its usefulness as an insulator. One record dates them back as far as 1749 where English travel writer makes mention of them. The duvet was brought to the United States by immigrant families who had to request replacement duvets and duvet covers from their former homelands because they were unavailable in America until about 10-15 years ago. In recent times, the popularity of duvets has grown at a rapid rate and as a result, they are now readily available United States.
According to wikipedia, a duvet (pronounced du:veɪ, from the French duvet [dyˈvɛ] "down") is a type of bedding cover--a soft flat bag traditionally filled with down or feathers, or a combination of both, and used in lieu of a blanket.
You might compare a duvet with a comforter filler, or a comforter without the cover fabric. Depending on where you shop, you often find that the term "duvet" is incorrectly used for a comforter cover and that a comforter is also referred to as a duvet. There are some other differences between a duvet and comforter you should be aware of:
1. Size -- a comforter is much larger than bed size, whereas a duvet tends to be just a little over bed size
2. Convenience -- duvets reduce the complexity of making a bed. With a comforter you also need a top sheet and blankets, whereas with a duvet you can eliminate the need for a top sheet and blanket
3. Flexibility -- unless you have a reversible comforter, you are pretty much stuck with one look, whereas by changing the duvet cover you can quickly change the look of your bed to match your mood.
4. Mobility -- a duvet is not tucked in like a blanket and will move with you and molds to your body
5. Comfort -- a duvet can be purchased by thermal (tog) rating. This means you can select a duvet appropriate for the season. The higher the tog rating, the warmer the duvet.
6. Maintenance -- a duvet will always give you that unique soft luxurious feel and only requires shaking out every few days to regain its plumpness in most cases (depending on filling materials used).
Although traditionally filled with feathers, now you can find duvets that are filled with alternative materials such as silk, cotton, wool and other organic materials, and even artificial fibers (such as polyester batting). Although there are those who will claim that all silk duvets, constructed of layers of silk batting, are the superior duvet, those that have slept under down will disagree.
Most duvet users slip the duvet into a duvet cover. The duvet covers are essentially a large pillowcase, and are readily available in many colors, fabrics and styles. The bottom side of the cover is then fastened by either ties, a zipper, or a row of buttons. The duvet cover serves several utilitarian and aesthetic functions. First of all, it protects the duvet from becoming soiled. Depending on the duvet cover’s fabric, it only requires washing at appropriate times.
On a side and more humorous note, the term "Duvet day" is used in some countries to describe an allowance of one or more days a year when employees can simply phone in and say that they are not coming in to work, even though they have no leave booked and are not ill. The provision of this benefit became fashionable in the late 1990s with many larger companies in the UK.
Which ever way you look at it, duvets have come to the US to stay. Next time you need to replace bedding, why not give the duvet a try? You'll be glad you did. If this feels like too much of a commitment may I suggest that you book yourself into a hotel that offers duvets for a test drive. You'll wonder why you never made the switch.