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The blue apron

Anyone who walks through South Tyrol with open eyes will soon notice that the farmers and craftsmen here wear a blue apron on workdays. It is an integral part of the workwear and shapes the image of South Tyrol like no other piece of clothing.

The blue apron
The blue apron - © Südtirol Marketing/Stefano Scatà

The blue apron seems to be an indispensable part of the traditional working world. "A man without an apron is only half dressed," as a South Tyrolean proverb says, and without the classic checkered or white shirt and the apron on top, many people really feel "naked." Only on weekends and holidays is the blue apron taken off, then the festive costume is worn to celebrate the occasion.

Aprons have been widespread in the Alpine region since the Middle Ages. They protect the clothing underneath and are also versatile, serving as a pocket, sack, or towel. Aprons were not only practical, but also usually indicated belonging to a specific professional group. In South Tyrol, white linen aprons were common until the 19th century, called "Vortuch" or in dialect "Firtig," "Fürtig," or "Fürchta." They consisted of a chest piece, the "Brüstl," and a rectangular lower part.

From 1900, cotton became the predominant material, along with the blue color. Thus, the blue apron became a symbol of the farming class. The shade of blue varies by region, so the origin of the wearer can be recognized by the initiated. Even the way the apron is tied is regionally typical. The "cut" also varies, for example in the Ladin region, only a simple apron without a bib is worn. In the border regions with Switzerland and Austria, a blue shirt is customary instead of an apron.

Without an apron only half dressed

The apron is the everyday clothing for South Tyrolean men from 5 to 65. Boys receive their first apron as a gift on their first day of school. The blue apron is still often self-sewn and decorated with various embroideries. It often bears sayings, humorous, witty, or meaningful, or simply the declaration "I am a South Tyrolean." Once the day's work is done, the right apron corner is pulled up and twisted into the back straps. This signals to others when the wearer's workday is over.

After the division of Tyrol and especially after the end of fascism, the blue apron also became a political symbol. It indicated belonging to the German-speaking group. Today, these conflicts have been resolved, and the apron is once again work and leisure clothing. It is also a popular souvenir for all South Tyrol tourists, as well as a lovely and practical memento. Buy Farmer's Apron: www.bauernschurz.com

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