Tuesday, December 05, 2023
Join the Euro and save the pine marten
Watching University Challenge last night I learnt that, as of January 2023, Croatia became the twentieth country to join the Euro, effectively condemning one of the most colourful European currencies to the trash can, and no doubt doubling the price of what used to be very economical holidays in that beautiful country
Prior to January 2023, the main currency was the Luna, which is a pine marten in the local language. This is because in medieval times the pelts of these lovely animals were the main curency and they kept the name when they graduated to base metal and paper coinage. A Croatian tourist site explains more:
The idea of the kuna as a currency appeared as early as the Middle Ages. At the time, valuable marten (called kuna in Croatian) pelts were used as a form of payment for taxes called kunovina or marturina in medieval Slavonia, Primorje and Dalmatia regions. Not long after that, the kuna became a currency of the autonomous province of Banovina of Croatia (Banovina Hrvatska). The image of this animal was used on the Croatian coin called banovac from the first half of the 13th century to the late 14th century.
The kuna consisted of one hundred Lipa, which is a Linden tree:
Lipa, as the hundredth part of the kuna, was not traditionally used as currency, but this tall, strong and elegant tree was considered sacred by the ancient Slavic people, who wove numerous legends and folk tales around its symbolism. Lipa coins came in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50, and they all exhibited motifs of Croatian plants, such as Degenia velebitica (Velebitska degenija), olive, tobacco, common oak, common grape vine and corn. With their motifs, kuna notes and lipa coins enabled you to travel through the most beautiful parts of Croatia and discover some of the representatives of the flora and fauna that inhabit its turquoise blue sea and mighty green forests.
Progress clearly has a price, though we are assured that the marten will still appear on the new Croatian Euro coins.