It may come as a bit of a surprise, but the necktie originated in Croatia. The cravat, a piece of cloth worn around the necks of Croatian soldiers in the 17th century, was brought to Europe where it was discovered as an alternative to the uncomfortable starched linen collars worn by the French upper class and quickly adopted as the latest trend in fashionable neckware.
In 2003 Marijan Bušić, head of the non-profit group Academia Cravatica, which promotes the cravat as part of Croatia’s world cultural heritage, undertook a massive project to wrap the roman arena in Pula in a giant red necktie (see photo at right), a sight believed to have been seen by over a billion people in person and on TV. The event was well loved and forever cemented October 18th as World Cravat Day around the world. Last year’s Cravat Day was deemed a “day of ceremony and community” by Croatian president Stjepan Mesić and was marked by cultural events around the country.
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Bušić says, “[The cravat] encourages us to communicate more aware of our own dignity and the dignity of others, our freedom, but also our responsibility. Due to its huge symbolic power, the cravat has epochal importance for Croatia and the world.”
I think it’s great that what amounts to probably the most significant fashion accessory in the history of the modern world, not to mention an enduring symbol of elegance, leadership and sophistication comes from such a tiny and humble player on the world stage.
Long live Croatia and happy World Cravat Day. Wear your tie with pride!