Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Symbols of Estonia

Estonia is rich in national symbols, both official and unofficial and they are dear to the hearts of every Estonian. Many of the symbols have their roots in the country's history of foreign occupation and deep love of nature. Some of Estonia's national symbols are centuries old whilst others have been given status more recently. All in all these symbols have come to represent the strength, resilience, toughness, agility, and hard work of Estonians.

The National Flag of Estonia

The national flag of Estonia is unique in the fact that no other county in the world has this tricolour combination. The flag was first used by an Estonian Students' Society in Otepää in 1881, then on the 27th of June 1922 the Estonian Parliament made the blue, black and white flag the official flag of Estonia. It proudly flies atop Pikk Herman Tower in Tallinn.

The colours of the blue, black and white flag have deep symbolic meaning for Estonians. The blue colour represents the sky above, black symbolises attachment to the soil of the homeland as well as the fate of Estonians (for centuries black with worries) and white is connected with hard work and other more abstract human values. During recent times the colours of the flag have also been given additional meaning - blue represents ancient freedom, black symbolises lost independence, and white promises a brighter future. 

Estonian Coat of Arms

The Estonian coat of arms features a golden shield with three slim blue lions representing courage through the ages. On both sides and at the bottom, the shield is framed by two golden oak branches. The oak branches are a symbol of perseverance and strength of Estonia and its people. The heraldic lions of the coat of arms are the most ancient of Estonia's symbols. They have been used since the 13th century when they served as the big coat of arms for the city of Tallinn. Tallinn got these slim blue lions from the King of Denmark, Waldemar the Second as Denmark was the ruling power in Northern Estonia at that time. The name "Tallinn" itself means "Danish castle". In 1925 the Estonian government adopted the three lions as the official coat of arms of Estonia. 


In 1968 the cornflower officially became the national flower of Estonia. For over 10,000 years the cornflower has grown in Estonian soil making it the obvious choice. Cornflower designs are very popular in Estonia with many items of apparel, linen and homewares featuring the beautiful blue cornflower.

Barn Swallow

The barn swallow is a characteristic guest in Estonian homes. Its call can be heard from practically every eave or barn rafter in the country. If the bird finds a suitable opening, under the ridge of a roof or a broken window, it will build its cup-shaped nest. They will even build a nest inside a house if they can. The choice of the barn swallow as a national bird was mainly the result of a campaign conducted by ornithologists at the beginning of the 1960s.


Limestone is the national stone of Estonia. Most of Estonia's castles, churches, farm buildings, and countless stone fences are made of grey limestone. Estonia lies on a thick layer of limestone which is visible on the steep banks of northern and western Estonia.

Oak Tree

The oak tree is sacred to Estonians as it symbolises strength and endurance. Estonia is one of the most northerly places in the world where oak trees can grow. Mixed forests with oak have given Estonia its most fertile soil.