Friday, 22 June 2018

Video:: Saaremaale!

For Jaanipäev, Estonians love to head to the islands to party! Saaremaa is a popular choice and the queue at the port can often be a long wait but for two observers it can be a bit of fun. This short film by Aleksandr Heifets and Jaak Kilmi won the 1st Place Award at the EstDocs Short Film Competition  in 2016.

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

How to make Estoniam sauna whisks (viht)

Estonian Saunas recently published an article of the steps involved to make sauna whisks. Just in time for Jaanipäev, now is the time to head to the forest and make your own! 

Birch is the most common tree to use for making whisks followed by oak and juniper.

Sauna whisks are called viht or vihad (plural) in Estonian.

The steps;

Step 1: Collect the branches after spring when the leaves are fresh, but also when they have grown long enough to reach their biological maturity.

Step 2: Carefully gather your forest materials. Avoid those that are toxic or too thorny.

Step 3: Tie the bundles. In order to get the right ‘candle flame’ shape, take branches of roughly the same size and focus on ensuring the tops are lined up, not the bottoms that will be trimmed later anyway. Where branches bend, point them into the centre of the whisk so that it forms a solid shape. At the bottom, make sure that you pull leafs away to keep a clear handle.

Step 4: Preserving the whisks. This can be done three ways - drying, freezing and salting.

Step 5: Beat it. Use the whisks! Fresh whisks are best. For your preserved whisks, the best technique to prepare them for use is to fill a sauna bucket with cold water and then submerge it for an hour. After that, take it into the sauna and submerge it into hot water. If you are sure of time though, submerging it one for 20 minutes in hot water is good enough.

To read the full Estonian Saunas article, please click here: Here’s how sauna whisks are made in the forests of Estonia

Lehis, Kuusk, Beljajeva: Estonia sweeps European epee championship - ERR NEWS

Estonia swept the podium at the 2018 European Fencing Championships in Novi Sad, Serbia on Monday, where Katrina Lehis, 23, was crowned European champion of the women's epee, while Kristina Kuusk, 23, took the silver and Julia Beljajeva, 25, took the bronze. What a fantastic result!

Click here to read the full ERR News article: Estonia sweeps European epee championship

Friday, 15 June 2018

Thousands of medieval artifacts unearthed at Kalamaja construction site - ERR NEWS

Construction work for the planned Mündriku Residence flats in the Põhja-Tallinn neighbourhood of Kalamaja has unearthed thousands of artifacts from the Middle Ages, ranging from chess pieces to leather shoes.

"Of the entire property, only the first section has been explored, and the amount is unbelievable," Sirle Matteus, design manager at YIT Eesti, told ERR's Novaator, adding that this was the largest collection of medieval finds yet discovered in one place.

A preliminary archaeological study had been conducted at the time the building permit for the property located at Väike-Patarei 1/Jahu 6 was sought, but nothing extraordinary had been found there at the time.

Thus it was surprising when valuable items began turning up as construction work began at the site in April. "Archaeologists discovered the layer of interest in April," the design manager recalled. "It was previously thought that this had been completely destroyed in the course of previous construction work. As it turned out, this layer was in fact intact. And that was just the beginning."

Since then, more than 10,000 items have been catalogued, despite the fact that by mid-June, only half of the 6,850-square-metre property has been dug through.

Of particular interest have been the discovery of wooden items. "Wood typically decomposes in the environment, but for some reason the conditions were favourable at this property and wooden items have been well preserved as well," Matteus explained.

A couple dozen archaeologists are continuing to work on the site, and cooperating with them are a number of specialists from across Estonia helping to identify and date the items. Specialists are also helping store and conserve the artifacts as well.

Items found at the site so far include: chess pieces, dice, arrowheads, cannonballs, religious-themed items, dishes, spoons, writing instruments, various tools, including knives, hats, a comb, and leather shoes for men, women and children that were primarily made of leather, without a heel and with pointed toes.

Excavation work at the site is expected to wrap up by the end of summer.

Source: ERR NEWS Thousands of medieval artifacts unearthed at Kalamaja construction site

Short film: Ode to Kringel

Kaisa Pitsi entered her film “Ode to Kringel” in the 2012 EstDocs Short Film Competition in Canada. The film received an honourable mention and inspired many viewers to go home and bake a kringle of their own. Let's see what delights will feature in this year's competition!

Thursday, 14 June 2018

Sea of a thousand tears commemorates the victims of the 1941 Soviet mass deportation

From 14 - 17 June 1941 the occupying Soviet forces deported over 10,000 people from Estonia.  These people were forcibly removed from their homes, loaded into cattle wagons and sent to remote parts of Russia. Among the victims were over 7,000 women, children and elderly people. Over 6000 Estonians were murdered or perished in the harsh conditions in Siberia. 

May we never forget this Soviet atrocity.

The first deportation raid began on the night of 13 June and early morning of 14 June. Families who had gone to bed on Friday night had no inkling to the hardship that was about to befall them. They were woken up in the dead of night by the sound of pounding on their doors. Armed Soviet soldiers  read out a decree declaring them to be under arrest and subject to deportation without any legal process or court ruling. All their property was declared to be subject to seizure. They were given an hour to pack.

A few hours after the start of the deportation the first trucks began arriving at railroad cars waiting on sidings. Altogether 490 cattle cars had been set aside for that purpose. The search for persons subjected to arrest or deportation continued until the morning of 16 June. Those carrying out the deportations behaved with extraordinary cruelty: even pregnant women and seriously ill elderly people were packed into overcrowded stock-cars. Thousands perished as a result, never to see their families or beloved homeland again.

Estonia lost approximately 20% of its population due to WWII and the Soviet occupation. 

It all begins today! FIFA World Cup 2018!

The wait is finally over. It's World Cup time once again. Those past four years certainly flew by in a blink of an eye. Here we go once again...

One day it would be great to see Estonia compete in the World Cup Tournament. If Iceland can do it with a population of just 300,000 then surely Estonia can manage it too. 

If you happen to be in Russia during the coming weeks may I suggest a stopover or detour to Estonia. Estonia is absolutely beautiful this time of year. You won't be disappointed!

Good luck and may the best team win!