Welcome to Wednesday Word. Every Wednesday in May we take one word and see what that word means for us, Croatians. And the first word is “necktie”. Did you know that ties were “invented” by Croats?
In Croatian the word is “kravata”, similar to many other languages – “cravate” in French, “gravata” in Portuguese, “corbata” in Spanish, “krawatte” in German, “krawat” in Polish, “kravat” in Turkish, etc. Even in English, a “necktie” is maybe more common today, but its predecessor was called “cravat”.
Sometimes, the word itself is enough to tell us all the history. Two words, “Croat” and “cravat” are very similar – the connection is rooted already in the word itself.
Like many “fashionable” objects, the French started to spread neckties all over Europe, but they’ve learnt it from Croatians.
The story goes all the way back to Thirty Years’ War and early 17th century when French noticed Croatian soldiers wearing tied neckbands and started to “copy” them. They would do it “à la croate” (“like Croatians”, “in the style of Croatians”). Soon, this expression “à la croate” created a new word “cravate”.
But why would Croatian soldiers wear a necktie in the first place? This tradition probably developed some time earlier – women would give their own linen or silk scarfs to their fiancés, husbands, brothers or sons and men would wear it around their neck, maybe to have it closer to their hearts and remember their loved ones while they are in battle.
Starting as a simple folk tradition, neckties became a symbol of an elegant European man in 18th century. Today, neckties are not worn only by men. However, we can say that in general they are slowly going “out of fashion”.
To not let anyone forget this tradition, the “Cravat regiment” is formed in 2010 that regularly recreates the “changing of the guard” in Zagreb’s Upper Town. When you’re in Zagreb, be sure not to miss them…
Usually, the changing of the guard is performed every Saturday at noon, from April to October. This year, due to current regulations, some performances are postponed, but we can only hope that our “guards” will soon be there to elegantly chase away any fear of the virus. You can check their performance in this video right here:
“Kravata” / “cravat” / “necktie” – Wednesday Word for this week. Next word, next Wednesday!
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