Licitars – honey cookies

Licitars – honey cookies

For centuries in northern Croatia at local fairs there can be found at least one seller of beautiful licitars, the colourfully painted cakes made of sweet dough which were once given to dear people as decoration and a small sign of affection. Liticars are made by medičari, craftsmen who also offer other honey products, such as the classic medenjaci (honey and gingerbread cookies), mead and honey rakija.

 

The best-known forms of licitars are the heart-shaped ones, however, these painted cookies are also made in the shapes of animals, mushrooms and alike. Once they were formed with the help of wooden moulds, which today have been replaced with those of metal, and the tradition and skill of their painting with colours such red, yellow, green and even white and their decoration with the help of a sugar mix has been added to the list of UNESCO’s intangible world heritage. The history of their production can be traced back to the Middle Ages when they were prepared in numerous European monasteries, and with the spread of this practice into Croatian regions honey producing became a craft which, apart from the production of edible products, also included candles.

 

The liticar dough is made from flour, sugar, water, sodium bicarbonate and spices to taste, then it is shaped with the help of a mould, baked, dried and decorated. The skill of preparing licitars was previously handed from father to son, but today women also practice this skill. Each craftsman has a distinctive decorating technique, which can include the writing of a message, the painting and decorating with the aid of miniature details with sugar paste, and this is nurtured throughout the career of the medičar.

 

The licitars themselves can be various sizes, from small shapes which can be used as Christmas and Easter decorations, to large ones which are real works of art. Licitars are most often sold at different religious festivals and local as well as international fairs because they are one of the most recognisable symbols of Croatia’s national identity.