Today is National Necktie Day in Croatia—Birthplace of the Necktie

Srdjan Stevanovic, Getty Images
Srdjan Stevanovic, Getty Images

If you're wearing a necktie to work today, you can thank (or blame) the Croatians for this stylish invention. The necktie's predecessor, a short knotted garment called the cravat, is a source of pride in this Western Balkan nation—so much so that they celebrate Cravat Day each year on October 18.

It's unclear when exactly the necktie was invented, but Croatian soldiers wore red cravats as part of their uniform during the Thirty Years' War (1618-1648). According to The Atlantic, Croatian mercenaries carried it to Western Europe that same century, and the French borrowed the idea and dubbed it the cravate. It became even more stylish when Louis XIV of France started wearing a lace cravat in 1646 at the tender age of 7, according to The Dubrovnik Times. The English eventually helped spread the accessory around the world, and it morphed into the elongated form we're most familiar with today.

In 1997, a nonprofit organization called the Academia Cravatica was founded to promote the cravat as a symbol of Croatian ingenuity. "By spreading the truth about the cravat, we improve Croatia's image in the international public," the organization states. "The fact that Croats invented the Cravat makes us proud to be Croats." (According to Time Out, Croatia also invented the first MP3 player, the zeppelin, the parachute, and fingerprint identification.)

The cravat is also tied up with national identity. The words Croat and cravat are etymologically linked, and were once different spellings of the same word. One sample sentence by David Hume in 1752 reads, "The troops are filled with Cravates and Tartars, Hussars, and Cossacs."

The holiday isn't normally a big to-do, but the county's capital city, Zagreb, occasionally gets pretty festive. In 2003, when the holiday first debuted in Croatia, the Academia Cravatica wrapped an oversized red necktie around Pula Arena, a Roman amphitheater. It took two years to prepare and five days to install—and at 2650 feet long, it ended up being the largest necktie in the world, as recognized by Guinness World Records.

Cravat Day was formally declared a holiday by Croatian Parliament in 2008, and it's been a hallmark of Croatian culture ever since. A few events were planned in Zagreb today, including a march featuring the "city's famous Cravat Regiment." So if you happen to be in the Croatian capital, now you know why more than 50 historic statues are looking dapper in their red cravats.

9 Vintage Thanksgiving Side Dishes We Shouldn’t Bring Back

We all have that aunt—the one who’s been bringing her Miracle-Whip-bound pimiento-pea salad to Thanksgiving dinner since time immemorial. Although you may swear she got her recipe straight from the devil, it turns out that cheese-and-lime-Jell-O salads and their ilk were all the rage in her day. So it’s not (totally) her fault! To cut her a little slack, here are some examples of vintage Thanksgiving-themed recipes that will make her salad look like a perfectly golden-brown turkey.

1. CRANBERRY CANDLE SALAD

Best Foods Mayonnaise Ad 1960s with Jello Molds

Nothing complements the tart, refreshing flavor of cranberry sauce like some gelatin and salty, eggy mayonnaise. If that weren’t weird enough, this recipe also tells you to shove a real candle in there and then light it. Ostensibly, you’re supposed to eat around the melted wax, but we can’t be sure—maybe it’s considered a condiment.

2. CANDIED SWEET POTATOES WITH ANGOSTURA BITTERS

This recipe for candied sweet potatoes, which involves baking them in a mixture of butter, sugar, and angostura bitters, is probably either really good or really bad. It sort of makes sense, adding bitters to cut down on the sugar factor. Alternatively, you could just not make a candied version of something that already has the word sweet in its name.

3. CREAMED ONIONS

This once-popular Thanksgiving mainstay has been neglected over the last century, for perhaps obvious reasons. In some households, the idea was to pour creamed onions over the turkey, like gravy, to add a little moisture. Or possibly because eating a chunky mouthful of pearl onions and cream sauce by itself is gross.

4. TURKEY AND STUFFING ON JELL-O

Thanksgiving Jello Ad

There’s not much to this one, is there? It’s a pile of turkey and stuffing dumped on top of a cranberry orange Jell-O ring—sounds delicious!

5. WINTER CORN

This mixture of corn, sour cream, and bacon is sometimes found on Midwestern Thanksgiving tables. It’s mostly off-putting because its main ingredient is creamed corn. That said, creamed corn really needs all the help it can get, so adding bacon can only improve it.

6. SWEET AND SOUR TANG POPCORN (A.K.A. ASTRONAUT POPCORN)

Reportedly, this was a popular Thanksgiving dessert in the ’70s. The idea seems to be an offshoot of caramel corn, but … with Tang powder.

7. HOT DR. PEPPER

You gotta give the good folks at Dr. Pepper a few points for at least trying here. They noticed that soda was not often considered a cozy, comforting holiday drink, and they stepped up to the bat undaunted. Bold move.

8. FROZEN JELLIED TURKEY-VEGETABLE SALAD

There’s only one way to improve a dish as alluring as Jellied Turkey-Vegetable Salad, and that’s to stick it in the freezer. From the sound of the recipe—which combines cream of celery soup, salad dressing, diced turkey, vegetables, and gelatin—this is basically the inside of a turkey pot pie if it was served frozen. And also if it was square.

9. JELL-O FRUIT CORNUCOPIA

Sure, cornucopias were for holding food in olden times, but don’t you wish you could eat one? Well, guess what—your years of longing are finally over, because someone has made a Jell-O version of one with fruit trapped in it. You don’t even have to take the fruit out of the cornucopia this time—you can just pop the whole thing in your mouth. Dreams do come true.

10 Great Subscription Boxes for Everyone On Your Gift List

The Go Love Yourself Box, Cratejoy
The Go Love Yourself Box, Cratejoy

Most people have at least one person on their gift list who’s a little difficult to shop for. Whether they’re male or female, young or old, a beer lover or bookworm, you can probably find something they’ll like on Cratejoy.

Billing itself as the world’s only marketplace for subscription boxes, Cratejoy is an online retailer with over 1600 options to choose from. You can narrow down your search by clicking the "women," "men," or "kids" tabs at the top, among others, or by searching for specific interests. There’s something for foodies, fashionistas, bibliophiles, gamers, fitness enthusiasts, art lovers, pet owners, and more.

The subscription boxes, which charge by the month, vary widely in price. Some boxes charge as little as $6 per month, while the Robb Vices Membership (think fine wines, cigars, and gadgets) is one of the most expensive offerings at $159.95 per month. You can also choose whether you want to subscribe for one, three, six, or 12 months.

Ready to give a gift that keeps on giving year-round? Check out a few of our favorite options below.

1. Coffee and a Classic ($28.99): Comes with a classic novel, bookmarks, “bookish treats,” and some sort of beverage (you can choose coffee, tea, or cocoa).

The book Matilda with related merchandise
Coffee and a Classic, Cratejoy

2. Pooch Perks Premium Customized Dog Boxes ($19.99): Comes with five or six toys and treats for your pup.

3. Wonderkin ($39.95): Includes nature-based books, activities, and learning materials for children aged 3-8.

4.The Go Love Yourself Box ($30): Includes a self-help book, self-care items, and additional resources (like journals and webinars).

5. Matter ($40): Billed as “part museum, part lab project,” each box includes a variety of scientific objects and natural history specimens.

6. GeekGear (About $32; ships from UK): Includes 6-10 pieces of Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts merchandise, including a monthly T-shirt, accessories, wall art, and more.

7. Skulls Unlimited International, Inc. ($24.99): Their “Bonebox” comes with various animal bones, teeth, and claws—great for science teachers or collectors!

8. Finders Seekers Mysteries ($30): Filled with fun puzzles, mysteries, and cryptic messages for you (or your gift recipient) to solve.

A mystery box with various clues and puzzles inside
Finders Seekers Mysteries, Cratejoy

9. First Sip Brew Box ($24.99): While no beer is actually included (for legal reasons), each box comes with various merchandise from a different craft beer company.

10. MexiCrate ($5.99): Includes 10-15 items of Mexican candy and snacks.

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