Friday, 23 June 2017

How to celebrate Jaanipäev like a true Estonian

All Estonians love to celebrate Jaanipäev! It's a highlight on the Estonian calendar that usually sees Estonians retreat to their country houses or head to the islands to party all night long. Travel website 'Visit' recently published an interesting article about Jaanipäev that is full of interesting tips and facts. Have a great night everyone!

In Estonia, the Midsummer festivities are as popular as Christmas, and probably just as important.  Every summer, St John’s Eve (Jaanilaupäev) is celebrated on June 23 and St John’s Day (Jaanipäev) June 24. It is a celebration filled with fun activities, Estonian music, good food and company, traditions, magic and romance. Estonians celebrated midsummer long before Christianity reached the Baltics and the old traditions are still going strong.

Midsummer is a magical time and has always offered a chance to rest and have some fun after all the work has been done in the spring, with summer about to start. Whole villages and communities have traditionally celebrated together. Going back, no one was allowed to work on the special day.

Today St John’s Eve and Day are celebrated with friends and family at home or at bigger gatherings called jaanituli. Many Estonians head from the cities to the countryside, meaning Tallinn can seem abandoned by the locals. But don’t worry, we’ll tell you where to find Estonians and how to celebrate St John’s Day in Tallinn like a true Estonian. Follow our lead and spend an unforgettable midsummer in Tallinn.

1. Go to a jaanituli (bonfire) on St John’s Eve
Take part in local midsummer bonfire festivals at Viimsi Open Air Museum and Kalev Stadium. For the most traditional St John’s Eve festivities, go to the Estonian Open Air Museum. These celebrations show what Midsummer means in Estonia. You’ll get to see bonfires, enjoy music and dance performances, eat good food, play midsummer games and meet locals. At the Estonian Open Air museum you’ll get to swing in the village swing with locals dressed in traditional folk costumes.

2. Make your future bright and happy
Estonians are quite superstitious and have many beliefs related to midsummer and especially bonfires. For example, according to legend, if you don’t go to jaanituli it will bring you misfortune; your house may burn down! You should walk from your home to the bonfire for good health. Once you get there go around the bonfire three times, then do another three rounds backwards. This will bring you great success, it is believed.

If you have something to throw into the fire as a sacrifice, it could be a small branch or flower wreath, then all your wishes will come true. The fire and smoke will also give you strength for the coming summer and year. It also brings relief to injuries and back pains. This is why older people sometimes sit with their backs turned to the fire.

3. Enjoy and have fun!
Eat: If you are trying to have an authentic Estonian St John’s Eve you should eat something with dairy, like pastries with quark, cheese etc. But nowadays the traditional Estonian summer dishes are shashlik, barbequed meat, sausages and vegetables served with potatoes and fresh salad made with sour cream, tomatoes and cucumber. Flush them down with cooling kvass (bread drink) or local beer. In the olden days every man used to brew their own beer for midsummer!

Play: Dance around the bonfire and sing along to Estonian pop music, nostalgic schlagers and mesmerising folk music.  Take part in local traditional midsummer games and sway in the big village swing. If possible, go to the sauna. In the sauna you should use a traditional viht, or a bunch of leafy birch branches, to gently beat yourself and stimulate your skin, or get a friend to help if you prefer. It relaxes your muscles and feels good, believe it or not. If the viht causes leaves to stick to your skin, you can use them to make someone fall in love with you. Ain’t the Estonian midsummer great?

Don’t sleep: This is the shortest night of the year, the sun barely sets. Make the most of it and stay up all night. Children love midsummer especially because they are also allowed to stay up until dawn. If it doesn’t rain in the night it will bring everyone good luck! So cross your fingers!

4. Search for the fern flower
It is a common misconception that ferns don’t bloom, but actually they do, once every year. And yes, you guessed it right, ferns bloom on St John’s Eve, but only for a short moment. You should be totally focused on this mission, as if you get distracted you’ll miss your chance. The one who finds the fern flower will instantly gain wealth, new abilities and will understand the secret languages of animals.

5. Jump over the bonfire
While you have been looking for the rare flower, the bonfire has almost gone out. This is the perfect time to jump over the bonfire. It will bring you happiness and health. A little advice on the romantic side: think about the one you love while you jump over the fire, and they will fall in love with you!

6. Roll in the morning dew
The dawn of St John’s Day is special. You can feel the dewy grass under your toes. The dew has a magical power, use it to wash your face to gain beauty, or turn a somersault on the ground to avoid back injuries. You can also collect the dew in a small bottle and take it home with you. Store it out of direct sunlight and you can use it for up to 50 years and it won’t lose its magical power.

7. Meet the love of your life in your dreams
Before heading to bed in the morning collect nine different flowers from the meadows and forests. You should do this alone and secretly for the magic to work. Place the flowers under your pillow and you’ll see your future love in your dream. This method has been shown to work by many Estonians!

8. Find a friend in Jaan!
There are almost 5000 men named Jaan in Estonia. So you are bound to meet a Jaan while staying in Estonia. Jaan is the Estonian version of John and Jaanipäev (St John’s Day) is the day of the Jaans. Famous Jaans include Jaan Tõnisson (politician), Jaan Poska (politician), Jaan Teemant (politician), Jaan Kross (writer), Jaan Koort (sculptor), Jaan Kaplinski (poet), Jaan Pehk (musician), and Jaan Tätte (artist), to name but a few. So go and find yourself a Jaan on Jaanipäev!

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Estonian National Museum Opens Largest Folk Costume Exhibition of all Time

On June 22, the Estonian National Museum will open Estonia's largest national costume exhibition. 150 folk costume sets will be on display from all Estonian parishes that reflect the diversity of national costumes geographically and throughout the year. The exhibition is divided into four thematic spaces - summer, winter, spring and autumn.

One hundred years ago, the Estonian National Museum managed to collect the richness of unlimited wealth, patterns, traditions and fashion in peasant clothing. But only now, in a new museum building, can they exhibit this richness in its entirety.

Alongside the exhibition, the museum offers information on folk costumes and their culture of worship in the form of numerous books, catalogs, instructional materials and workshops.

For more information, please click here: Eesti Rahva Muuseum / Estonian National Museum


New book! Eesti rahvariiete ajalugu is considered to be the most comprehensive book written about the history of Estonian folk costumes. It can be purchased from the museum's online giftshop for 70€. ERM: Eesti rahvariiete ajalugu

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Video: Estonian Presidency of the Council of EU 'This is Estonia'

Estonia will hold the Presidency of the Council of the European Union for the first time from July 2017 to the end of December 2017.

The Presidency of the Council of the European Union changes every six months. Estonia will be taking the baton of the Presidency over from Malta to hand it over to Bulgaria six months later. Three consecutive holders of the Presidency agree which areas to focus on more at the European level. This ensures that important topics remain in the centre of attention for 18 consecutive months. Estonia forms a Presidency trio with Bulgaria and Austria.

In the Council of the European Union, 28 Member States make decisions on policies affecting the welfare and security of more than 500 million EU citizens. The role of the presidency is to seek common ground among the different opinions of Member States, and guide the Member States towards agreements - to be an honest broker acting for the common benefit of the whole. The presidency will also communicate to the media and the international public, the process of reaching common positions as well as the substantive topics and issues discussed. The presidency is responsible for organising the sessions of the Council of the European Union and the duties of working groups – to prepare agendas and chair meetings. The presidency presents and supports agreements between Member States in negotiations with the European Commission and the European Parliament. In the last stage of the negotiations, the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament adopt decisions that are binding to all Member States and shape the day-to-day life of 500 million European citizens. Estonia, within the presidency, will have to address some 500 different issues.

Monday, 19 June 2017

Estonia to open the world’s first data embassy in Luxembourg

It's great to see Estonia going from strength to strength with its e-governance and technological innovation. Estonia’s pilot project – the world’s first data embassy – could set an example for the rest of the world. writes about the history behind the project. and how Estonia has emerged as a digital society. 

In the last 20 years, Estonia has developed into what the World Development report, compiled by the World Bank, last year called “closest to a digital society”. However, being digital and therefore dependent on information and communication technology also creates challenges. One of them is the question of how to secure all the data that could become vulnerable in the case of a cyber or indeed a real military attack.

For example, when Estonia regained its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, it had to determine who its rightful citizens were.   Approximately 80,000 people had fled the country during the last world war and there was the problem of how to return land and property to those whose assets were confiscated during the Soviet occupation. In order to establish this paper records and archives were used. However, in the digital society the country no longer stores this information on paper, raising the question of continuity or as in the case of Estonia today, digital continuity.

The country had its first experience with cyber-conflict back in 2007, when attacks originating from Russia managed to take fifty-eight Estonian websites offline at once, including those of the government, most newspapers and many banks. Although no information was lost during this event, Estonia had been backing up important data outside of its borders even before the attack, storing it in Estonian embassies across the world. Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 brought the question of continuity back to the forefront of public discussions in Estonia and the government’s Cloud Policy stated that, “to ensure service functionality and data continuity, capabilities needed to be developed outside of the country’s borders.” So even if a crisis develops, digital authentication and authorisation services would remain operational. To achieve this aim Estonia considered two options: a physical embassy for data in a friendly foreign country or a virtual embassy for data in a privately owned public cloud.

“One of the most important tasks of any country is to ensure continuity both on a state level as well as in terms of public services. The Estonian digital and information society is already so highly sophisticated that it is no longer possible to move back to a paper era. Therefore, we have to do our utmost to ensure cyber security, including maintaining the digital continuity,” Siim Sikkut, the government’s ICT policy adviser, noted. “We have back-up data storage facilities in Estonia, but in order to be prepared for any occasion, if, for example, the state suffers a large-scale cyber-attack, natural disaster or a conventional attack on a datacentre – we need back-up sites outside our borders,” he added.

One of the two options to achieve the digital continuity – the cloud technology – was tested in late 2014, when Estonia embarked on a research project with Microsoft to see whether a public/private cloud computing partnership model could function. However, Sikkut said that this was not enough. “The cloud technology provides a good opportunity, but the state also wants to maintain the full control and jurisdiction of their data and systems. For this reason the private cloud services are not exactly suitable for us,” he said. “Therefore, we started to develop and enhance the data embassy concept, just like Estonian embassies abroad, these are our sovereign embassies in foreign data centres.”

During the last few years Estonia has held talks with a number of countries and has now succeeded with one of the smallest countries in the European Union.  The first data embassy will be based in a high-security data centre in Betzdorf, a commune in eastern Luxembourg. “The Luxembourg site will store the copies of the most critical and confidential data,” Sikkut explained, adding that the first data embassy should become operational by the end of this year, or at the latest, at the start of 2018. “Once the first one is running, we will analyse and evaluate whether we need to enhance our capabilities. It is highly likely that we will set up additional data embassies, but that all depends on the cost and our experience,” he said.

The two countries are expected to sign a mutual agreement this summer, but it is already clear that the Estonian data embassy will have the same protection and immunity as the traditional embassies. “Luxembourg has been a very good partner. In essence, we are creating a new precedent in terms of international law and practice, a kind of innovation.  Luxembourg has been keen to think along with and contribute to the creation of the new concept. The ‘physical’ embassies are our sovereign territory under the Vienna Convention. Now we want to bring the same concept to the cyber world and data centres, Sikkut explained. This effectively means that officials from the host country will be barred from accessing the data.

Estonia’s pilot project could, again, set an example to the rest of the world.

Source: Estonia to open the world’s first data embassy in Luxembourg

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Estonia ranked fifth in the world and first in Europe in cybersecurity

According to the Global Cybersecurity Index 2017 conducted by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Estonia ranked fifth in world and first in Europe in cybersecurity. This is an excellent result placing Estonia ahead of its Nordic neighbours. Norway ranked 11th in the index, Finland 16th and Sweden 17th. In total the ranking included 195 countries.

The full report can be found here: Global Cybersecurity Index 2017

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Tamm remains the most common surname in Estonia

According to Statistics Estonia's Population Register the most common surname in Estonia as of January 2017 is Tamm (oak). Nearly 5,300 people in Estonia have this surname.  Other common surnames include Saar (found especially in Viljandi, Rapla and Lääne) Sepp (Saaremaa) and Kukk (Põlva).

Estonians typically derive their surnames from various trees, plants, animals, landforms and occupations.

My surname Lestal, which means 'flounder' (fish) is quite rare. As of 1 January 2017 only 16 men and 17 women in Estonia have this surname. They are mainly concentrated in Tartu county which is where my family originate. 

To do a name search and find data on your surname, please click here: Estonian surnames

Estonian Embassy Considered One of Washington DC's Most Beautiful Embassies

Travel website The Culture Trip recently published a list of the most beautiful embassies in Washington DC. Estonia appeared on the list alongside its Nordic neighbours Finland and Sweden. This morning Toomas Hendrik Ilves tweeted - 'I thought so when I picked it out, bought and renovated it 23 years ago.' Mr Ilves is obviously a man of good taste!

The Estonian Embassy
2131 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington, DC

This house on Embassy Row was originally built for a doctor in 1905, and later was home to the Peruvuian Embassy, until Estonia bought it in 1994. The neoclassical style architecture makes it one of the standout buildings on Embassy Row.

To read The Culture Trip article, please click here: Washington, DC's Most Beautiful Embassies

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

In memory of the victims of the June 14, 1941 Soviet deportations in Estonia

Estonians across the globe will gather to light candles tonight in remembrance of the victims of the first mass deportation in the Baltic States. On the night of the 13th June 1941, the Red Army in Soviet-occupied Estonia rounded up 9603 innocent civilians and sent them to desolate and underdeveloped parts of Russia.  Of the victims, 3512 were men, 3024 women and 3067 children. The men were sent to prison camps in Siberia and the women were forced to work in hard labour camps. May we never forget this Soviet atrocity that tore families apart ruined a generation  of Estonians. There probably isn't a single Estonian family who did not lose somebody as a result of Stalin's deportations.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Video: A walk through Tallinn

Need abit of inspiration or motivation to visit Tallinn? Take a look at this video!

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Two extensive history anthologies completed for Estonian centennial - ERR News

Avita Publishers and TEA Publishers held a joint book launch for two new and extensive anthologies designed for the centennial of the Republic of Estonia next year — "History of Estonia" and "Republic of Estonia 100."

TEA Publishers' reference book "Republic of Estonia 100" contains everything essential which characterizes the Republic of Estonia — its statehood, its fight for freedom and the history of the nation state as well as its nature, people, economy and culture, including its cultural traditions.

Avita Publishers' "History of Estonia" focuses on the history of the region, from the establishment of its earliest settlements through today. The work takes a territorial approach to portraying history, however the development of Estonians' national identity is analyzed as well.

To read the full ERR News article, please click here: Book launch

More information about the books can be found here:
TEA Publishers -  Republic of Estonia 100
Avita Publsihers:

Thursday, 8 June 2017

University of Tartu ranked 314th best university in the world

According to the QS World University Ranking, the University of Tartu is ranked the 314th best university in the world. This is an excellent result compared to the previous ranking in 2012 which placed the university at 501. The University of Tartu is now the highest rated university in the Baltics. 

To view to full list, please click here: QS World University Rankings

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Top 10 Tallest Buidings In Tallinn

Estonia is not known for its tall buildings however from 1549 to 1626 Tallinn's St.Olaf's Church was considered the tallest building in the world. Today however, hotels make up the majority of the cities skyscapers. To discover which buildings are the tallest in Tallinn, take a look at this video.

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Ott Lepland's new single - Siin me kokku saime

If you're like me and enjoy listening to music by Ott Lepland then you'll be pleased to know that he has just released a new single. The song is called 'Siin me kokku saime' which translates to 'here we got together' in English. You can listen to it here. Enjoy!

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Cool new Estonian invention - Playluggage!

Playluggage is a new Estonian brand of bags and suitcases aimed at renewing the industry and offering high quality products. Playluggage not only wants to create luggage, they want to give customers a travel companion that will provide exceptional functionality accompanied by stylish artwork and entertainment at a reasonable price. In addition to its core function and distinctive design, Playluggage creates the possibility of playing various traditional games whilst travelling. Their products are extremely durable, multifunctional, stylish and entertaining. Playluggage is for the distinguished traveler and families living active lifestyles.

Playluggage is a trademark and founded by Hanno Remmel who broke his suitcase during a trip to Barcelona. He started to discover possibilities to create his own unique luggage brand which would provide more fun whilst travelling. With a great team by his side, this outstanding luggage concept has received lots of attention in international media, including BBC, CNBC and various travel magazines.

Cool innovative designs!

You can learn  more about Playluggage from this video presentation.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

How many people actually speak Estonian in Estonia?

Earlier this year the Estonian Bureau of Statistics released a report detailing the number of Estonian speakers in Estonia. At the beginning of 2016 there were 883,707 people in Estonia who spoke Estonian as their mother tongue, i.e. 68.4% of the population. The report is a good read covering the different regions.

To read the full report (in Estonian) please click here: Kui palju räägitakse Eestis eesti keelt?

Thursday, 18 May 2017

How tens of thousands of Eastern European immigrants helped rebuild Britain in the dark days after WWII

Yesterday the Daily Mail published this interesting article describing how displaced persons (DPs) helped rebuild Britain after World War Two.  Their invaluable contribution to society not only took place in Britain but in other countries too. In Australia, many of the Europeans who fled Soviet terror worked on important building projects and expanded industry.  It was the perfect arrangement, DPs needed a safe new home after the war and countries needed to fill their labour shortages.

Amid dark times when essential industries were crippled by staff shortages, immigrants from Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania filled a gap in the workforce and restored communities across the country.  

Between 1946 and 1950, 13,000 Latvians, and more than 6,000 Lithuanian and 5,000 Estonian Displaced Persons (DPs) came to Britain as part of two organised European Volunteer Worker schemes, Balt Cygnet and West Ward Ho!

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

It's easy to fall in love with Tallinn! See why!

Century old buildings, cobbled stone streets, narrow winding passages ways and delightful courtyards, these are some of the things that makes Tallinn so enchanting. Everyone who visits Tallinn is in awe of its splendour which is why people always say they can't wait to go back! Just watching this video makes me long to return!

Monday, 15 May 2017

TRAD.ATTACK! - New Song - "Sõit'' (Ride)

If you're a fan of Trad Attack! then you'll be happy to know they have recently released a new single. The song, ''Sõit'' (Ride), is from their album "Kullakarva''  (Shimmer Gold).  You can listen below. It's good!

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Estonian village of Thirlmere is the only entirely Estonian village in Australia

The Estonian village of Thirlmere located 89 kilometres south-west of Sydney is a unique place. Renown for its Estonian community, the village has its own homes, hostel, café, community centre, church and graveyard. It is the only entirely Estonian village in Australia.

Estonian folklorist Mare Kõiva recently visited Thirlmere and shared her experience with Vikerraadio. She tells how the village was founded and why it was chosen as a place to live in Australia,

Many Estonian immigrants settled in Thirlmere from 1924 onwards, especially after the Second World War when tens of thousand had fled to avoid being sent to Siberia for alleged political and economic crimes. Estonians are largely responsible for the development of the successful poultry industry, which at one stage was the largest egg producer in the state and still provides the great majority of NSW's poultry produce. Many of the younger generations of Estonians have left the area and moved closer to the city but other original immigrants and newcomers live there still in Australia's only Estonian Retirement Village.

You can listen to the radio interview here (in Estonian): Eesti lugu. Austraalia 2

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Only a few sleeps to go until the Eurovision Song Contest begins in Kyiv!

The 2017 Eurovision  Song Contest commences on Tuesday 9th May in the beautiful Ukrainian city of Kyiv. 42 countries will compete in this year's competition including Romania and Portugal who are returning to the competition after a year’s absence. Estonia's entry 'Verona' will be performed by Koit Toome and Laura when they take to the stage on Thursday 11th May 2017 in the second semi-final. Fingers crossed they make it to the final!

For more information about Eurovision Song Contest, please click here: Eurovision 2017

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Estonian immigration exceeds emigration for second year in a row

According to revised data released by Statistics Estonia on Thursday, 1,315,635 people lived in Estonia as of Jan. 1, which was 309 fewer than one year prior. The population decreased by 1,339 due to negative natural increase but increased by 1,030 due to positive net migration.

In 2016, net migration was positive for the second year in a row, with immigration exceeding emigration as 14,822 persons took up residence in Estonia and 13,792 persons left Estonia during the year. As external migration is often left unregistered by Estonian residents, as of 2015, Statistics Estonia also takes into account unregistered migration in addition to registered migration and as a result, the migration flows since 2015 have been larger compared to previous years.

To read the full ERR News article, please click here: 

Saturday, 29 April 2017

Ilus Eesti! 24 Photos That Will Make You Fall in Love with Estonia's National Parks

Estonia is renowned for its beautiful forests and photogenic landscapes. Over fifty percent of Estonia's landmass is covered in forest.  To really capture the essence of Estonia's natural beauty, a trip Estonia's Lahemaa National Park is a must! Travel website Culture Trip recently put together a collection of 24 of the best photographs taken in Estonia's National Parks - check it out!

To view all 24 photosgraphs from the collection, please click here: 

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Estonian film “November” to be released in cinemas in North America later this year

Great news! The Estonian film 'November' which had its world premier at the Tribeca Film Festival recently has now been picked up by distributor Oscilloscope Laboratories for cinema release. 'November' is due to screen in cinemas in the US and Canada later this year.

The film 'November' is based on the Estonian bestselling novel Rehepapp by Andrus Kivirähk. The story is a mixture of magic, black humour and romantic love. In a pagan village where werewolves, the plague, and our ancestral spirits roam, lives a young farm girl named Liina. She is hopelessly in love with village boy Hans and lives out her desperate longing as a werewolf, running after her beloved, ready to die in the name of love. The main problem for the villagers is how to survive the cold, hard winter and, for that, neither stealing nor cheating nor losing one’s soul is taboo. Where does love fit into this world of pragmatism where anything goes?

Estonian pagan and European Christian mythologies come together in this film. Both mythologies look for a miracle, for an ancient force that gives one a soul.

Film details and credits:
Original title: November
Genre: fantasy, romance
Language: Estonian
Director: Rainer Sarnet
Screenwriter: Rainer Sarnet
Based on: Rehepapp by Andrus Kivirähk
Cinematographer: Mart Taniel E.S.C
Art Directors: Jaagup Roomet, Matis Mäesalu
Editor: Jaroslaw Kaminski
Music by: Jacaszek
Sound design: Marco Vermaas
Main cast: Rea Lest, Jörgen Liik, Dieter Laser, Arvo Kukumägi, Katariina Unt, Heino Kalm Producer: Katrin Kissa
Co-producers: Ellen Havenith, Lukasz Dzieciol
Produced by: Homeless Bob Production (Estonia), PRPL (The Netherlands), Opus Film (Poland)

Monday, 24 April 2017

Tõnis Mägi song "KOIT" (Dawn) with English translation

Last year I was contacted by a reader asking if I had an English translation for the popular Estonian song 'Koit'. At the time of enquiry I had never seen an English translation of the lyrics and was unable to assist. A few days ago I came across this video online.

For those unaware, 'Koit' is a moving and powerful song, dear to the hearts of many Estonians. It was the main song during the Estonian Singing Revolution when Estonians fought to regain their independence from the Soviet Union between 1988 and 1991.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Tartu University develops new online translating tool

Greta news! Language technologists from the Institute of Computer Science at the University of Tartu have developed a new translation tool making it even easier to understand the Estonian language!

Estonia from Above - Aerial Drone 4K Film

Monday, 17 April 2017

Estonia 100 kicks off with national hike - ERR News

The Estonia 100 centennial program began Sunday with a national day of hiking in springtime snow along the former border which once divided modern-day Estonia into the Governorate of Estonia and the Governorate of Livonia.

"One hundred years ago, North Estonia and South Estonia were separated by a governorate border which we will symbolically erase from the map with this hike," said Margus Kasterpalu, Estonia 100's director of major events, according to a Government Office press release. "In this way, we will celebrate the emergence of our country, which was an important milestone on the road to independence."

Groups of hikers headed out along the over 400 kilometer long former border which ran from the northwestern shore of Lake Peipus to Tõstamaa in Pärnu County. Hikers carried GPS devices which allowed others to follow their paths on a virtual map as the border line was erased by hikers on the move.

To read the full ERR news story, please click here: Estonia 100 kicks off with national hike

Estonian government endorses bill to disband county governments - ERR News

The Estonian government on Thursday gave its nod to a bill that will disband Estonia's 15 county governments and divide up their current functions between municipalities and state institutions; the bill was thereafter forwarded to the Riigikogu.

The government has decided to terminate county governments as of Jan. 1, 2018. The reorganization of county governments will not eliminate counties as administrative units, however.

In accordance with the bill, the function of organization of public transport via public transport centers will be handed over to the National Road Administration, while supervision over educational institutions will be taken over by the Ministry of Education and Research, the coordination of the organization of educatin to Foundation Innove, the issuance of activity permits in the social sphere and supervision thereof to the Social Insurance Board, land reform and procedures with land to the Land Board and the analysis of youth work, programs and subsidies to the Ministry of Education and Research and the Estonian Youth Work Centre.

To read the full ERR News article, please click here: 

Friday, 14 April 2017

Happy Easter! Häid lihavõtteid!

In Estonia, Easter marks the beginning of spring- it's a time of celebration and tradition. Some of these 19th century traditions are still practised today! 

Easter is referred to by many different names in Estonian: Ületõusmispüha (Resurrection), Lihavõtted (literally meaning meat-taking holiday, marking the end of Lent), Munadepüha (egg holiday), and Kiigepühad (swing holiday, referring to the tradition of swinging on the large wooden village swing on Easter Sunday).

Easter Sunday in Estonia is usually celebrated with a long lunch, egg painting, and an old fashioned Easter egg hunt. It's common to decorate your own eggs, typically the eggs are painted with natural colourings like onion skins or beetroot juice, then put in a basket as a centerpiece for the table. Having real eggs on the table is crucial for the after meal egg-knocking competition, where each year a new champion emerges. It's simple, you tap the end of your egg against your opponent's and the shell that doesn't crack is the winner!

Many of the Easter customs, like egg-knocking, that are still practised today come from old folk traditions. Egg rolling, though not widely practised, has the same principle as egg knocking, trying to crack your opponent's egg. An egg is rolled down a pile of sand to try and hit other eggs- how intricate the ramp is, is completely up to you. The person whose egg remains intact, wins!

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Estonian National Museum turns 108 tomorrow! Palju õnne Eesti Rahva Muuseum!

The Estonian National Museum will turn 108 years old on April 14. This will be the first year the museum will celebrate its birthday at its new location. Palju õnne!

To read more, in Estonian, please click here: Palju õnne, Eesti Rahva Muuseum!

Ühenkoorid - Isamaa ilu hoieldes (X noorte laulupidu 01.07.2007)

The working week has come to an end and the Easter holidays are about to begin. Getting into the festive mood I've spent my afternoon listening to some classic Estonian songs. This one I've played about five times. I love it! 

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

12 April 2017 marks one hundred years since the two Estonian-speaking territories were merged into a single entity

On 12 April 1917, the Russian Provisional Government approved the law on the provisional autonomy of Estonia. Based on this law, the Governorate of Estonia and the Estophone northern part of the Governorate of Livonia (Tartumaa, Võrumaa, Pärnumaa, Saaremaa) where joined together.

In other words, this date marked the beginning of the preparations for the proclamation of the independence of the Republic of Estonia on 24 February 1918. 

This day is celebrated in Mihkli Parish for the reason that, back in the old days, this parish was the only one of which a half belonged to the Governorate of Estonia and a half to the Governorate of Livonia.

Click here to read the speech by Estonian Prime Minister Juri Ratas: 
The founding of the Republic of Estonia would have been inconceivable without our sense of unity

The lands settled by Estonians were unified and the Estonian contour was created.

Additional reading. 
A hundred years ago the lands settled by Estonians were divided between the Governorate of Estonia and the Governorate of Livonia. Even though Estonians lived and the Estonian language was spoken both in the Governorate of Estonia and the northern part of the Governorate of Livonia, those settlements were separated by a strict border. After the February Revolution in Russia in 1917, Estonian nationalists started to demand that the Russian Provisional Government establish a unified and autonomous national governorate. To this end, a demonstration was organised in Petrograd on April 8, 1917, after which on April 12 the Russian Provisional Government issued a decree to join the counties of Pärnu, Saare, Tartu, Viljandi and Võru in the Governorate of Livonia with the Governorate of Estonia. The lands on which Estonians had lived for thousands of years were once again united, and we could now enjoy the sea views, the silence of the marsh and the scent of our spruce and pine forests without a dividing border.

Source: EV100

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Winner of the new Baltic two Euro centenary coin announced

In 2018 the Baltic States of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania will celebrate their centenaries. To mark the occasion, a competition was held to produce a special 2€ commemorative coin. Each of the Baltic States submitted two designs and a public vote took place online to choose the winner. 

The winning design was produced by Lithuanian artist Justas Petrulis and shows a symbolic plait in which the fates of the three Baltic sisters intertwine.  

The winning design: 'Baltic sisters with plaited hair'.

During the two weeks of online voting, 14 302 votes were received. People from every continent except Antarctica voted for their favourite design. Alongside voters from Europe were others from Japan, Australia, Argentina, Canada, India, Morocco and the United States. The vast majority of 93% of the votes came from the three Baltic states, with 36% of the votes coming from Estonia, 32% from Latvia, and 25% from Lithuania.

In total, 4277 votes were cast for the work by the young Lithuanian designer Justas Petrulis; this is his debut in coin art.

Petrulis expressed the idea of his work in a poem:

Baltic sisters plaited their hair
As if one story – joint plait.
Mutual past, present and future,
Century of States unites three Baltic daughters.

The 'Three Hands' & ''Three Pines' were Estonia's coin submissions.

The two-euro coin with the winning design will be minted in all three Baltic States and will enter circulation in early 2018.

100 random participants from the online vote will each receive a gift pack of three commemorative coins in special souvenir packaging – a coin from each of the Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian mints.

For more information, please click here: New Centenary Baltic Coin

If Tesla were a country it would be Estonia!

Friday, 7 April 2017

5 exciting new attractions coming soon to Estonia

Estonia has always been a country full of pleasant surprises. With each visit comes the opportunity to discover something wonderful and new. During the next few years Estonia will be opening a range of exciting new attractions making, the country even more appealing than before. Here are five of the best:

1. Skypark  - Giant Ferris Wheel 

Due to open October 2018, the giant Ferris wheel stands at 120 metres tall and will be the largest public object displaying the EV100 logo. The Ferris wheel will be part of the 6,000 square metre Skypark complex, featuring large indoor trampolines, various ball games, a 4D cinema and science centre.

2. Sea Star Centre 

Meritäht Dirhamis
Meritäht /Seastar

The 'Meritäht' / 'Sea Star' complex will be Estonia's first multi-functional marine centre under one roof. Due to open in 2019, it will include an ocean fish aquarium, water park, adventure park, science centre, a diving centre and an indoor beach.

3.Kosmopark (Space Park) 

The Kosmo Park in Põltsamaa is set to be the largest indoor space-themed amusement park in the Baltic region. Due to open in the autumn of 2018, the park will offer a unique combination of wind tunnel and thematic attractions. Experience what it's like to be an astronaut and float in a weightless state, or try the virtual climbing wall. Many adrenalin filled activities await you!

To learn more, you can watch the promo video here: Kosmopark - kosmoseteemaline perepark Põltsamaal

4.Wow Centre Kuresaare

Wow Centre Kuresaare

The Wow Centre is sure to thrill those interested in optical illusions. Here you can experience walking in the rain without getting wet, climb underwater and experiment with space.  The Wow Centre will also include a planetarium, 4-D movie theatre and "Selfiedrome" in which visitors can take pictures of themselves participating in historical and other exciting scenes.  Hours of fun for the entire family!

5. Noblessner Virtual Reality Experience Centre

The Noblessner Virtual Reality Experience Centre will enable visitors to step back in time and experience life in the 19th century. The centre has 15 experience points where you can try everything from a hot air balloon ride to controlling an aircraft.  Use your problem solving abilities to complete tasks in different environments. The centre is set to open in Tallinn by the end of 2018.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Tallinn shortlisted for European Green Capital 2019 & European Green Leaf 2018 Awards

The finalists for the European Green Capital Award (EGCA) 2019 and European Green Leaf Award (EGL) 2018 have been announced. Ghent (Belgium), Lahti (Finland), Lisbon (Portugal), Oslo (Norway) and Tallinn (Estonia) are the five finalists shortlisted for the EGCA. For the EGL, the finalists are Leuven (Belgium), Ludwigsburg (Germany) and Växjö (Sweden).

The shortlisted cities will now have to convince the Jury of their overall commitment to ongoing environmental improvement and sustainable development, their capacity to act as a role model, and their strategy for communicating with the public. This year’s winners will be announced at an award ceremony on 2 June 2017 in Essen, Germany, the current European Green Capital.

To learn more, please click here: European Green Awards

Estonia: Mythology Case Study

Claasical music in Estonia - introduction by composer Rasmus Puur

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

On this day in 2004 Estonia became a proud member of NATO - the strongest security alliance in the world

There are currently 28 member countries in the NATO defence alliance, they are:

ALBANIA (joined 2009)
BELGIUM (joined 1949)
BULGARIA (joined 2004)
CANADA (joined 1949)
CROATIA (joined 2009)
CZECH REPUBLIC (joined 1999)
DENMARK (joined 1949)
ESTONIA (joined 2004)
FRANCE (joined 1949)
GERMANY (joined 1955)
GREECE (joined 1952)
HUNGARY (joined 1999)
ICELAND (joined 1949)
ITALY (joined 1949)
LATVIA (joined 2004)
LITHUANIA (joined 2004)
LUXEMBOURG (joined 1949)
NETHERLANDS (joined 1949)
NORWAY (joined 1949)
POLAND (joined 1999)
PORTUGAL (joined 1949)
ROMANIA (joined 2004)
SLOVAKIA (joined 2004)
SLOVENIA (joined 2004)
SPAIN (joined 1982)
TURKEY (joined 1952)
THE UNITED KINGDOM (joined 1949)
THE UNITED STATES (joined 1949)

For more information about NATO, please click here: What is NATO?

Monday, 27 March 2017

Help space exploration by supporting ESTCube-2's crowdfunding campaign

After the successful launch of the ESTCube satellite in 2013, the team are now in the process of developing technology for the new ESTCube-2.  Help support this worthy endeavour and contribute to science by donating to their new crowdfunding campaign!

The development team are currently building ESTCube-2, a CubeSat three times the size of ESTCube-1, that will be sent to low Earth orbit. This is perfect for testing a 300 m long E-sail wire, or so-called tether. The revolutionary E-sail can give the satellite a push to move faster in the Solar System, but can also work as a brake in the Earth’s magnetosphere. On ESTCube-2 the team will use the E-sail as a plasma brake that can bring the satellite down faster and therefore help to mitigate the space debris. Space debris is a dangerous phenomenon. If we leave all the old and non-operational satellites to orbit the Earth and keep sending new ones up, then in 50 years the Earth will be surrounded by so many satellites, that safely accessing space would be become a lot more difficult. Technology developed on ESTCube-2 could be the solution!

The team are planning to complete ESTCube-2 in 2018 and launch it into space in 2019. The timeline is tight and they want to have the satellite completely finished in honour of the 100th anniversary of the Republic of Estonia. With your support, we could give this small but courageous country a one-of a-kind present – a high-tech satellite!

For more information and to watch the fundraising campaign video, please click here: ESTCube-2

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Remembering the victims of second and largest mass deportations of Estonians by the Soviets

68 years ago today, 3% of the Estonian population were seized and deported by the Soviets to remote areas of Siberia. Candles will be lit on Tallinn's Freedom Square today in the shape of Estonia, and the names of the 32,000 people directly affected by the deportations will be projected onto a large screen. 

May this crime never be forgotten.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

The 26th Estonian Song Celebration and 19th Dance Celebration "Touched By Time. The Time To Touch"

The Estonian Song Celebration (Laulupidu)

Always a joy to watch this truly unique Estonian event. The first Estonian Song Festival was held in Tartu in the summer of 1869 and now takes place in Tallinn every five years. The next song festival will be held in July 2019. Can't wait!

Monday, 20 March 2017

6 Proverbs in Estonian

There are three things you can not hide for long  - the sun, the moon, and the truth.

Parem on, kui igat asja ei kuule, aga ei ole halb, kui igat asja tead. 
It's better, if you don't hear everything; but it's not bad, if you know everything.

Mets kuuleb ja meri näeb. 
Forest hears and sea sees.

Värske kala, hea kala.
 Fresh fish -- good fish.

Tilkadest kogub meri. 
From drops the sea will accumulate.

The best feeling in the world is to see your children happy