Lada 馃彙 Prkic

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Licitars: Hearts Made Of Honey

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This post is about聽the biscuit that is one of the most famous symbols of Croatia.

Licitars are traditional biscuits made with sweet honey dough, red glazed and decorated in bright colours. They are a part of Croatia's heritage and the traditional symbol of Zagreb, the capital of Croatia. It is also one of the most popular souvenirs which many tourists want to take home.

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聽Particularly interesting are the girls dressed in traditional costumes, selling the licitar souvenirs on the streets of Zagreb.

Licitars come in many forms and sizes, such as doll, bird, mushroom, horseshoe, horse, cherries and bird, but most often in the shape of a heart.

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Almost every licitar heart has a small mirror or piece of shiny metal that looks like a mirror placed at its centre. Licitars聽also have engraved texts, love poems, and personal messages and phrases. They are gorgeous with their red shiny glaze and rich piped royal icing decorations in various colours.
聽聽

Why a Mirror?

A licitar heart is a symbol of the heart of a person who gives it to you. In the old days, when a young man was in love with a girl, he gave her a licitar heart with the words: "Look whom I've got in my heart." She would have looked at licitar and saw her reflection in the mirror.

Nowadays, the licitars are given away as a token of love for romantic celebrations, such as weddings聽or Valentine鈥檚 Day, but also to family members. It is also a symbol of friendship and hospitality.

My husband gave me a licitar heart many years ago. I still keep it in our home.

The magical attraction of licitars is certainly not in their material value, but in the message they carry. To give someone a licitar heart symbolizes an invisible bridge and love bond between those people.

Since the beginning, they have been sold at fairs and church feasts on picturesque stalls together with mead and other wax products.

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聽 聽 聽 聽聽 Stall with Licitars in Marija Bistrica

Licitars are added to UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List in 2010, as 鈥淐roatian gingerbread鈥. Though they do not actually contain ginger, licitars are referred to as gingerbread.

Honey bread or gingerbread can be found throughout Europe, and even further, but the Croatian Licitars from Northwest Croatia have specific and unique features, such as a bright red glaze and characteristic decoration.


History and Tradition

The tradition of making licitars goes back to the beginning of the gingerbread and wax craft in Croatia, in which the beekeeping and honey trade was developed already in the Middle Ages. A lot of written documents from that period confirmed it. The origin of gingerbread itself is quite vague, and according to some data, the 11th-century crusaders brought gingerbread to Europe.

The craft was intensively developed in the 18th and 19th centuries. In northern Croatia, licitar makers known as 鈥渕edi膷ari鈥 were prominent craftsmen who were making dough and wax products such as Licitars, gingerbread cakes, candles, mead and a local drink called 鈥済virc鈥. During the 1950s, interest in the craft has ebbed but today things are getting better, and there are more than 35 master gingerbread-wax craftsmen who kept the tradition alive.

Even today the methods of production have scarcely changed. Authentic recipes were kept the family secret and handed down from generation to generation. The oldest family-owned craft that operates today was opened in 1882 in Marija Bistrica, a small town聽famous for the Black Madonna,聽an old Marian shrine. Numerous gingerbread shops in Marija Bistrica have a long and rich tradition, preserving the heritage by selling Licitars and traditional children wooden toys聽that also became protected by UNESCO in 2009.聽

Licitar Hearts as an Inspiration

Kre拧imir Baranovi膰, a Croatian composer, was inspired by Licitars for his full-evening ballet called Licitar Heart (1924). Clear and playful, and based on his own libretto in which a licitar heart brought together the two young, Baranovi膰 composed the music聽based on local tunes.聽

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聽 聽聽 A scene from the ballet

The local fashion brand - Hippy Garden, was inspired by this distinctive souvenir of Croatian heritage. They implemented licitars in a successful fashion story as a wearable souvenir, carrying the message -From Croatia with Love!

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How It鈥檚 Made

The traditional sweet licitar dove is made of honey, flour, licitar yeast, water, and edible colours.聽Nowadays, sugar is used instead of honey as a much less expensive ingredient.

If you would like to know how licitars are made, here is a wonderful video provided by UNESCO and the Croatian Ministry of Culture.

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If you ever make a trip to Croatia, look for the licitars and give them to someone special. When given from the heart, no matter how small token of appreciation will bring joy to those you love.聽

From me, with love!

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Source:

1. Licitar

2. http://www.udovicic.com/medicarna/


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Comments
Lada 馃彙 Prkic

Lada 馃彙 Prkic

3 years ago #42

#53
Licitars are also used for decorating Christmass trees, so I decided to share this post again. https://postimg.org/image/7kb3d05cp/ Thanks for sharing, Franci. :-)

Lada 馃彙 Prkic

Lada 馃彙 Prkic

3 years ago #41

#53
Licitars are also used for decorating Christmass trees, so I decided to share this post again. http://s28.postimg.org/5si4i3lzx/PC300504c.jpg Thanks for sharing, Franci. :-)

Franci 馃悵Eugenia Hoffman, beBee Brand Ambassador

A delicious and beautiful post Lada \ud83c\udfe1 Prkic. I'm thrilled to see it make a second appearance.

Lada 馃彙 Prkic

Lada 馃彙 Prkic

4 years ago #39

Thanks for sharing, Donna Wood. :-)

Lisa Gallagher

Lisa Gallagher

4 years ago #38

And the beauty contained within this buzz.. such great visuals. Mmm cakes made of honey!!

Lada 馃彙 Prkic

Lada 馃彙 Prkic

4 years ago #37

#49
Thank you dear Lisa \ud83d\udc1d Gallagher. I thought it's time again to enjoy some cakes made of honey. 馃槉

Lisa Gallagher

Lisa Gallagher

4 years ago #36

I'm glad this came back up, the visuals alone are like eye candy Lada \ud83c\udfe1 Prkic! Just beautiful.

Lada 馃彙 Prkic

Lada 馃彙 Prkic

4 years ago #35

#46
Glad you like the story about a cake. I think it's very important to keep tradition alive. The long skirt is also my favorite. :)

Lada 馃彙 Prkic

Lada 馃彙 Prkic

4 years ago #34

#45
....or give them to the loved ones :-) Thank you Devesh!

Devesh 馃悵 Bhatt

Devesh 馃悵 Bhatt

4 years ago #33

I want to eat one. Great buzz.

Lada 馃彙 Prkic

Lada 馃彙 Prkic

4 years ago #32

#43
I'm already a member of this hive. :)

Lada 馃彙 Prkic

Lada 馃彙 Prkic

4 years ago #31

Giuseppe Torres, thank you for sharing my post with those who may have missed it the first time. 馃檪

Lada 馃彙 Prkic

Lada 馃彙 Prkic

5 years ago #30

#39
Thanks for the heart-warming comment, dear Maja Vujovic, and for sharing my post in the Bees' Best Works hive. It's my one and only jar of honey I made in June. This is why cookies are so sweet!!

Lada 馃彙 Prkic

Lada 馃彙 Prkic

5 years ago #29

#35
Thanks a lot, James. Similar cookies can be found throughout Europe, including Hungary, and every region has their own specific names. Croatian cookies have unique features and that is why the licitar craft is protected by UNESCO.

Lada 馃彙 Prkic

Lada 馃彙 Prkic

5 years ago #28

#34
Hi Fatima! The story about mirror is so romantic. I still often look in the mirror of licitar heart I received from my husband many years ago.

Lada 馃彙 Prkic

Lada 馃彙 Prkic

5 years ago #27

#33
Thanks, Juan, for having found the time to read and comment.

馃悵 Fatima G. Williams

馃悵 Fatima G. Williams

5 years ago #26

A lovely way to express love and I love the idea of the mirror in the middle of the Licitar Heart and the story behind it all. Croatia on the bucket list now :) Thank you Lada Prkic, CEng

Lada 馃彙 Prkic

Lada 馃彙 Prkic

5 years ago #25

#30
I am so glad that you like my story Lisa Gallagher. There are strong sentiments about the licitars in Croatia and people who are keeper of that heritage. Above all, they are sweet expressions of affection.

Lisa Gallagher

Lisa Gallagher

5 years ago #24

Such beauty and history along with sentiment with the Licitars Lada Prkic, CEng. The costumes are beautiful too! What a timeless and precious gift to receive! Thank you for sharing a piece of Croatian history! Thanks for sharing the delicious recipe, I'm hungry now :)

Lada 馃彙 Prkic

Lada 馃彙 Prkic

5 years ago #23

Thank you for your shares Nick Mlatchkov.

Louise Smith

Louise Smith

5 years ago #22

#26
Yes that connection is priceless isn't it!

Louise Smith

Louise Smith

5 years ago #21

#23
or retweet?

Lada 馃彙 Prkic

Lada 馃彙 Prkic

5 years ago #20

#21
Me too, Louise, I use many recipes that my mother learnt from her mother. I love this feeling of closeness with something that is being done in the past and in the same way by my grandmother and generations of women before her.

Lada 馃彙 Prkic

Lada 馃彙 Prkic

5 years ago #19

#19
I'm glad you like the story William. I love folktales like this. Thanks for reading.

Lada 馃彙 Prkic

Lada 馃彙 Prkic

5 years ago #18

#18
Thanks Milos Djukic for your great engagement on this post whit so many shares and relevants. Your praise means a lot to me.

Ken Boddie

Ken Boddie

5 years ago #17

But remember the following, Louise Smith: "Fruitcake and haggis should never meet, Or your tummy will tell you it's time to retreat. 馃毦 #21

Ken Boddie

Ken Boddie

5 years ago #16

But remember the following Louise Smith : #21

Louise Smith

Louise Smith

5 years ago #15

Thank you Lada for your detailed description of such a heartwarming custom! They are so intricate and the red background is stunning. My ancestors are English, Scottish, Irish and Danish. I learnt to bake from about 10 years old. I still make my Grandmother's fruitcake recipe every Christmas for my family and smaller cakes for my friends as presents. I bake other traditional recipes often too from the original ingredients. (Including steak and kidney pie BUT not Haggis Ken Boddie !)

Ken Boddie

Ken Boddie

5 years ago #14

Hey, . Strange how you think of me when you mention 'fruitcake"? 馃#10

Milos Djukic

Milos Djukic

5 years ago #13

Great article!!! Thanks a lot Lada Prkic, CEng I love licitars very much.

Bill Stankiewicz, 馃悵 Brand Ambassador

#16
WOW, thats a favorite! take care Lada! :)

Lada 馃彙 Prkic

Lada 馃彙 Prkic

5 years ago #11

#15
Thank you Bill for your kind words. I've just made a cherry cake.馃崚

Bill Stankiewicz, 馃悵 Brand Ambassador

Now I need to go out and get a cake. Beautiful pictures and great post Lada Prkic, CEng!! regards Bill

Lada 馃彙 Prkic

Lada 馃彙 Prkic

5 years ago #9

#11
Maja, we are very similar in that. I have family in Serbia, on my fathers side. Thanks for your kind words and for the share too.

Lada 馃彙 Prkic

Lada 馃彙 Prkic

5 years ago #8

#10
Me too, Pamela! I also love to learn more about other cultures, as I said in my previous comment. For me, everything about licitars is fascinating: history, oral tradition about mirror, and recipe that was kept in secret and handed down from generation to generation. Thank you so much for this beautiful comment and the share.

Lada 馃彙 Prkic

Lada 馃彙 Prkic

5 years ago #7

#8
You're always so witty! But Ben, food is not going to waste, licitars last for years. 馃崻

Ken Boddie

Ken Boddie

5 years ago #6

Thanks for the clarification, Lada Prkic, CEng. Now there's a conundrum. The Scotsman in me hates to see food going to waste, while the artist in me hates to spoil these amazingly beautiful works of art. #7

Lada 馃彙 Prkic

Lada 馃彙 Prkic

5 years ago #5

#5
You can eat them, Ken, because everything is edible (or should be), but they are very firm. They've always been intended for expressing love, not for food. Once, I tasted the cakes when they were freshly baked without glaze and decoration, and they were tasty. They must be completely dry before glazing.

Ken Boddie

Ken Boddie

5 years ago #4

Beautiful, just beautiful, and superb craftsmanship! I love the video and the music also, but tell me, Lada Prkic, CEng, doesn't anyone eat these licitars? You know what they say. The way to a man's heart is through his stomach! 馃拺

Lada 馃彙 Prkic

Lada 馃彙 Prkic

5 years ago #3

Yes, they are Aleta Curry. Thanks for a comment. I find your posts very interesting.

Lada 馃彙 Prkic

Lada 馃彙 Prkic

5 years ago #2

#1
Thanks for reading and sharing, Dean Owen. I like to read and learn about cultural heritage. It is important part of national identity. My further intention is to make a whole series of posts about interesting rituals, traditional crafts, folk costumes and even oral traditions. I just hope I'll manage to find a time for that.

Dean Owen

Dean Owen

5 years ago #1

A lovely buzz. Croatia definitely on my travel wish list. I hear great things about it. And those cakes look amazing.

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