The Blue Apron
Much more than a business suit
'A man without an apron does not feel complete', says a proverb. The blue apron was and to some extent still is - ubiquitous and for many an indispensable element of clothing. According to Hans Fink: Germans and Ladins in South Tyrol can be distinguished by the way they wear their blue aprons. Hair colour, skin colour and eye colour may deceive, but the blue apron never does.
In combination with the 'Jangger' (light men's jacket), hat and waistcoat, the blue apron forms the typical traditional weekday costume of South Tyrol. At one time, the apron was white and made of linen, since the end of the 19th century, cotton has been used instead. Farmers wore the white apron on Sundays and feast days after mass in the town square or on market days to express their pride in being a farmer.
Usually only the farmer wore the apron and at most occasionally the farmer's farmhand or the farmhand responsible for feeding the animals also wore it, whereas a simple farmhand could never wear it. Between 1900 and 1950, the white apron - the so-called 'Fürtig' or 'Fürchta:' - was replaced by the blue apron, which spread very quickly in South Tyrol. The apron was first and foremost a protective garment and work wear that was ideal in any situation. The apron was also very practical as a sack, as a basket for throwing seed, as a towel for drying one's hands and wiping the sweat `from` one's brow, as well as a 'briefcase' for various documents when one had to go to a public office or see the authorities.
It is not by chance that the apron ribbons are so long: if they broke, they were simply tied. Furthermore, the apron had the function of a belt. On the large farms, a wandering tailor usually came twice a year to sew the aprons, while on the small farms, sewing the aprons was the task of the women. This is why, over the years, local characteristics developed such as, for example, the shape of the bib or the way of putting on the apron.
Now you know a little more about the history of South Tyrolean traditions.