ZAGREB – Zagreb’s monuments and statues of famous Croatian men and women were on Monday sporting red neck ties in homage to the country’s centuries-old fashion accessory: the Croatian “cravat.”
The statues of scientist Nikola Tesla, of King Tomislav and the country’s first female journalist Marija Juric Zagorka were adorned with bright red ties ahead of Zagreb’s Cravat Festival.
The fashion item, a forerunner to both the bow tie and the necktie, dates back to the 17th century during the reign of Louis XIII of France and the Thirty Years War (1618-1648) when Croatian mercenaries were enlisted into a light cavalry regiment later known as the French Royal Army’s “Royal Cravates.”
From the end of the sixteenth century, the term applied to any long-strip neckcloth that was not a ruff (a starched, pleated white linen strip, used as a neckcloth, probably to avoid food stains).
According to a centuries-old Croatian folk custom, as men left for battle, women would tie a scarf around their necks as a sign of love and fidelity.
The word itself, cravat, derives from the French “cravate,” a variant of how Croatians described themselves as “Kravata,” meaning “Croats.”
In 2003, the Croatian parliament paid special tribute to this iconic wearable by proclaiming Oct. 18 as “Cravat Day” or “International Necktie Day.”