Monday, 10 December 2018
It comes as no surprise to me but it's official, Tallinn has received the title of Best Christmas Market in Europe. In a recent poll conducted by European Best Destinations over 200,000 people from all over the world voted for their favourite Christmas market and Tallinn came in at number 1. This is an excellent and well deserved result. The Tallinn Christmas Market it has it all. It is sinply wonderful. I have never seen another quite like it!
For more information, please click here: Best Christmas Market 2019 Tallinn
Sunday, 2 December 2018
Thursday, 29 November 2018
Earlier this autumn, the Estonian World Council (ÜEKN) submitted an appeal to the Riigikogu seeking to have 19 September officially declared a Day of Remembrance to mark the mass exodus of Estonians fleeing occupying powers in 1944. The Constitutional Committee of the Riigikogu, however, wants to leave the decision up to the next Riigikogu, which will enter office following the 2019 general election next March.
"As the powers of the XIII Riigikogu are set to expire soon, then I do not believe it is reasonable to introduce a debate regarding the addition of a new national holiday to the Public Holidays and Days of National Importance Act," Chairman of the Constitutional Committee Marko Pomerants (Pro Patria) said in response to the ÜEKN's proposal.
Pomerants is of the opinion that the matter should be addressed by the Riigikogu to be elected next March, if it should so decide, and recommended systemically reviewing the national holidays already listed in the current Public Holidays Act.
The ÜEKN sent the Riigikogu an appeal in which it proposed declaring 19 September an official Day of Remembrance of the mass exodus of 1944, 75 years ago next autumn.
"Tens of thousands of citizens of the Republic of Estonia were forced at the time to undertake a journey into the unknown in order to save their own lives," the ÜEKN wrote. "This journey did not end happily for everyone, and to this day the exact number of Estonians to perish en route remains unclear."
The appeal noted that this event, which was sad and tragic for Estonians around the world, unfortunately has yet to be officially recognised with a national day of remembrance. The authors of the appeal recalled, in contrast, that the suffering of those deported to Siberia are marked by Estonia with two national days of mourning each year, on the anniversaries of mass deportations on 25 March and 14 June.
Diaspora organisation: Holiday could unite locals, diaspora
"Remembering the suffering and struggles in the name of survival of those who fled in 1944 also provides an opportunity to recognise the significant efforts of refugee Estonians in preserving the legal continuity and restoration of the independence of the Estonian state," the ÜEKN wrote. "A Day of Remembrance could become a unifying bridge between local and diaspora Estonians."
The ÜEKN noted that it would be difficult to find a family in Estonia that did not include a single member who fled the country in 1944, and people both in Estonia and abroad feel the need to remember and commemorate this period of difficult decisions that September nearly 75 years ago. "An Estonian proverb even states that without one's past, one has no future," the appeal read. "The ÜEKN hopes that commemorating this Day of Remembrance on 19 September will become an annual custom both in Estonia as well as anywhere else where Estonians live. We are counting on members of the Riigikogu to support our proposal."
Wednesday, 28 November 2018
On the 28th of November 1918 the Estonian War of Independence commenced when the Red Army crossed the border and invaded Narva. Hundreds of brave young Estonians took up arms to defend their country, including many spirited school boys who achieved success by their strong bonds of friendship and determination. These patriotic volunteers did a wonderful service for their country and for the generations to come. Elagu Eesti!
Monday, 26 November 2018
Saturday, 24 November 2018
Friday, 23 November 2018
There are many beautiful Christmas markets around the world but the one in Tallinn is quite unique. Besides being the first city in the world to have a public Christmas tree, a tradition dating back to 1441, Tallinn's Christmas market is the complete package. As you stroll through the market stalls festive music plays overhead and children have the opportunity to meet Santa in his special cottage. Live performances take place regularly on the big stage and if you're lucky, you might get to see a reindeer! What more could you possible want? The Tallinn Christmas market is truly wonderful!
Friday, 16 November 2018
This year the Geelong Writers Inc. dedicated the eighth edition of the literary journal Azuria to the centenary of the three Baltic Republics. The book was launched at the 2018 Conference of the Association for the Advancement of Baltic Studies at Deakin University on 13th October 2018. Baltic writers from Australia and abroad contributed to the publication, myself included. My story The Path Back to Nõo can be found in the Memoirs section on page 21.
The Path Back to Nõo
Estonia experienced extraordinary change and upheaval during the 20th century. First there were the uprisings in the early 1900s inspired by the National Awakening followed by the elation of victory in 1920 after the Estonian War of Independence. A brief period of instability ensued as Estonia fumbled to find its feet a as nation and then came an idyllic time of growth and prosperity during the 1930s. Those who recall that period often remember it with great fondness. No matter if you were rich or poor, people were generally happy in Estonia during the 1930s. They worked hard, built houses, cultivated their land, life was good. That all came to an abrupt end in 1940 when the Soviet Union invaded and occupied Estonia. The Soviet occupation tore apart the fabric of Estonian society, robbing the country of its statehood and destroying family units. Those who managed to flee at the end of the war later found themselves new homes scattered across the globe, but family units were never really the same again. There was always someone missing, someone had either fled, been deported or died.
I think one of the most tragic things of all, apart from the Soviet war atrocities, was the destruction of the family unit. There are so many people like me, second or third-generation Estonians who experienced a disconnect with our ancestral homeland. We were cut off from our relatives in Estonia and sometimes didn’t even know who they were. I am very glad that my Estonian grandparents managed to survive the war and start a new life for themselves in Australia. But the truth is, they could have ended up anywhere. Australia was a great place to resettle, it’s a very fair, democratic and balanced society. If you are prepared to work hard, you can get far. I am very grateful that I was born and raised in Australia. I had a better quality of life than many of those who remained in Estonia. But for years I felt this disconnect, knowing my family was Estonian, yet feeling as if a big chunk of it were missing. It was not until Estonia restored its independence in 1991 and travel restrictions were removed that I was able to reconnect with my roots. Researching my family history was essential for me to understand where I came from. I gradually pieced it all together. It may have taken me twenty years but I have now reached a point of satisfaction. As a dual citizen I have a love for both my countries but when it comes to patriotism, Estonia will always be number one.
Growing up in Australia it was perfectly normal to be surrounded by people of mixed or foreign origin. In high school, my close circle of friends included a Croatian, Czech, Italian, Iranian and two cousins whose fathers came from Jordan. Having this mix of friends evoked many interesting conversations as we were often eager to share ‘how we did things at home’ in regards of our customs and traditions. Even though I grew up with all these different nationalities around me, I was the only Estonian in my school and during my entire childhood I never encountered another Estonian outside of my family. Our paths simply never crossed. In my youth none of my friends knew a thing about Estonia, they had no idea where it was located on the map and some even admitted they had never even heard of the country. That’s just how under-the-radar Estonia was back then. It was a country rarely featured in the mainstream news, a country people never seemed to talk about, a country that was only in the minds and in the hearts of fellow Estonians and neighbouring nations.
I have always felt proud of my Estonian heritage. From an early age my father attributed anything good that my siblings and I did to our Estonian origins. When we performed well at school, excelled in sport or even our good clear complexions etc, it was always due to our good Estonian genes! He may have said this half in jest, but he said it often, and it made me feel proud to be an Estonian. I was pleased I belonged to a unique group of people who were a little bit different from everyone else.
I must admit as a child, I had little knowledge of the hardship and perils the Estonian people faced during and after World War Two. I was never taught it. I knew my Estonian grandparents lived in Germany before they immigrated to Australia, but I had no idea about the displaced persons camps, the years of living in limbo or the fear or repatriation. That was something I gradually learnt over time once I commenced my family history research. As a child I had assumed that my grandparents simply moved to Australia for the reasons people typically do today. How wrong I was! Since I started exploring my genealogy the information I uncovered amazed me again and again. How wonderful it is that such precious documents have been so well preserved in the Estonian archives so that people like me, who knew little about their ancestry, can now be enlightened by knowing all the facts.
One of my favourite family photos.
Taken in Australia in 1955.
I used to love visiting my Estonian grandmother. She had a small business making dolls’ clothes and at the end of a visit she would always open her stock cupboard and give me a few pretty dressed to take home with me. Her sunroom was her work room and it was filled with beautiful fabrics, reels of ribbon and lace, and jars of buttons. It was a sight to behold for a little girl like me! My grandmother was a little bit different from the other grandmothers I knew. Even though she was fluent in English she resolutely refused to speak anything but Estonian at home so most of the time I couldn’t understand a word she said. My father taught me only very basic Estonian – greetings, numbers, food items etc. so whenever my grandmother spoke, my father always translated. It was a funny situation but one that I remember fondly.
Sadly, my grandmother passed away when I was only thirteen years old. She had been in ill health for some time before a second stroke took her from us. My grandmother used to say she had experienced so much during her lifetime that she should have written a book but, unfortunately, she never did. My grandmother never kept a journal or wrote anything down, all my family ever knew about her past were scattered stories that she would share from time to time. It was about a year after her death that I began to question ‘Who are we? Where exactly are we from?’, surely there must be more of us, more relatives, but where? I had no idea. I asked my father and uncles and none of them seemed to know much. I couldn’t ask my Estonian grandfather as he had passed away when I was two but my uncle said that my grandfather used to correspond with somebody in Germany. Who was that? A friend? A relative? I wanted to know.
I come from a very small family unit. Both my Estonian grandparents grew up as only children and met whilst living in the DP camp in Hamburg after the war. My grandfather Alexander was a student at the Baltic University. When the mass emigration programmes commenced in the DP camps, my grandmother applied to go to the United States of America but her application was rejected. My grandfather had plans to go to Brazil. They both ended up moving to Australia. My grandfather was first, arriving in Melbourne on board the Protea on 23rd December 1948, my grandmother joined him four months later onboard the SS Dundalk Bay. In 1949 my paternal great-grandmother Margarethe also joined them in Australia. For years that was it. That was the only Estonian family I had ever known. However, we did have several old photo albums filled with people who were obviously family. It took me years to put names to those faces.
The first major breakthrough I had with my family history research was when I contacted Fred Puss at the Estonian Biographical Centre in Tartu. For a reasonable fee he completed a report for me that provided essential information making my family tree look a lot fuller. Thanks to him I knew all the names, dates of birth and occupations of my grandparents’ relatives - their uncles, aunts, cousins, grandparents, great-grandparents. The report went back four or five generations. It was simply amazing! Any questions I had went into a second report and it was a such a joy when it arrived. I was flooded with emotion to learn all this incredible information.
One thing Fred included in the report was the name, address and contact telephone number of my closest living relative in Estonia. Liis was the daughter of my grandfather’s cousin Ralf and had lived in the same house in Graniidi Street in Tallinn all her life. I wrote to her and she promptly replied. I was so pleased she could speak English! Liis was very kind and sent me a family tree, she had underlined my grandfather’s name, indicating she knew of him, but had no knowledge of his descendants. I soon filled her in! I corresponded with Liis for many years until we eventually met in 2007. Liis organised a family reunion consisting of her older sister Helja and her children Andre and Natalja. Two grandchildren were also present, Katriin and Karl. We had a very nice afternoon tea together, it was very polite. We shared many stories and Helja even took me by surprise when she revealed she remembered my great-grandfather Arthur visiting her house when she was three years old. He had come to see her father and I was thrilled that she could remember she had a great uncle Arthur because he died in 1941.
Little did I know that at the time that my third cousin Natalja worked at Tallinn Airport in passport control and it was entirely possible that we may have come into contact before without even knowing it. Her brother Andre also took me by surprise. He first introduced himself to me as a ‘sports teacher’ but years later I discovered that he was actually a well-known Estonian athlete who often appeared in the national press. Andre was in fact Andre Nazarov, a former decathlete who had represented Estonia in the 1992 and 1996 Olympic Games. He now coaches Estonian long jumper Ksenija Balta.
I have made some amazing discoveries with my genealogy research over the years but I haven’t done it alone. With the aid of the internet, social media and websites like geni.com I have connected with many distant relatives who have shared a wealth of information with me. I have met some of these relatives who have shared their experiences of how repressive it was to live under the Soviet Union and I have heard many tales of survival too. Thanks to these people I have learnt so much.
2018 marks the 100th birthday of the Republic of Estonia. Every Estonian celebrated this milestone in their own special way. For me, on Independence Day I stood with pride on Tallinn’s Freedom Square knowing that my great-uncles fought in the Estonian War of Independence (armoured trains and medical units) and thus contributed to securing our country’s sovereignty. I am forever grateful to these brave heroes. I love Estonia, it has become my second home and I visit as often as I can. Nothing pleases me more than visiting the places I know my ancestors have walked before me, and strolls in the beautiful countryside always fill me with inner peace. The village of Nõo where my family are originally from is a place that will always be of significance to me. Its parish colours are present in my home today honouring my heritage.
I am no longer isolated from the Estonian community like I once was. Knowing my family history revealed that my roots are deeply engrained in Estonia as are those of Estonians living there today. The internet and social media now play a major role in keeping Estonians connected. Thanks to platforms like Twitter and Facebook, I know what events are happening in Estonian communities all over the world and I know everyone is welcome to attend if they are in the area. Estonia is a country that continually goes from strength to strength. It’s no longer under the radar, rather a beacon of inspiration, a pioneer in the digital sphere. Estonians have a lot to feel proud of and I’m sure the best is yet to come.
Monday, 12 November 2018
Every September Tallinn City Council runs a competition in search of the perfect Christmas tree to place in Tallinn's Town Hall Square. The tree must meet the following criteria, it should be between 15 and 18 metres long, symmetrical and have dense leaves. Ideally the tree should grow in an open place, far from electric wires for easy removal.
This year's winning tree comes from Tallinn's Kristiine district. Last Thursday the spruce left its former home in Kibuvitsa Street and made its way to the Old Town. The Christmas tree will now be the centrepiece of the Tallinn Christmas Market for all to enjoy.
Tallinn was the first city in Europe to have a public Christmas tree. It is a tradition that dates back to 1441. The journey of the Christmas Tree can be viewed on Vimeo.
Friday, 9 November 2018
In recent weeks there has been much discussion about who is eligible for Estonian citizenship. The issue came into the spotlight with the case of Alli Rutto, an Estonian residing in Abkhazia who was granted Estonian citizenship in error. So who is an Estonian?
True Estonians are ethnic Estonians. Estonians by blood. This means one or both parents are ethnic Estonian and can trace their heritage back in Estonia for generations. Estonia also granted citizenship and cultural autonomy to all ethnic groups living within its border upon independence in 1918. These groups included Germans, Russians (particularly Old Believers), Jews and Swedes who had likewise lived there for generations. For these people Estonian citizenship is a birthright and, as long as their families were citizens of Estonia during the first period of independence (1918 - 1940), they can apply for a passport.
When Estonia achieved independence and the Treaty of Tartu was signed in 1920, there were thousands of Estonians living abroad. My family were among these people. My great-grandfather worked in Finland for many years before seeking new opportunities in Russia. He married his Estonian wife in St. Petersburg in 1913 and lived in an Estonian community there until 1921. After the Treaty of Tartu was signed those Estonians living abroad had one year to claim their Estonian citizenship and resettle back home. Thousands of people did return to Estonia, my family included. During my genealogy research I viewed my family's Estonian citizenship application in the Estonian National Archives. Besides supplying documents such as birth records they also had to have three people personally vouch for them to prove they were indeed Estonian.
Estonians by blood cannot lose their citizenship and their descendants are automatically Estonian citizens regardless of where they were born. It is considered their birthright. This is particularly true with the Estonian diasporia. Thousands of Estonians fled Estonia because of the Soviet occupation but they would have stayed had the country not been occupied. These people kept the Estonian language and culture alive in all corners of the globe. Regardless of where they live, they are still proud Estonians.
I belong to this Estonian diaspora and even though I was born in Australia I grew up with Estonian culture and a deep love of my ancestral homeland. I identify as Estonian because my family are and it has always been a part of me. Most of the things I do regarding Estonia, namely this blog, is in honour of my Estonian grandparents. I know they would be very proud that I have reconnected with my roots and claimed my Estonian citizenship.
Estonian citizenship can be acquired but is a lengthy process. This is a good thing because Estonian citizenship should not been taken lightly. You need to prove that you are willing to contribute to society and respect Estonia's customs and traditions. I commend anyone who can master the Estonian language and is willing to brave the harsh cold winters! Good luck to them!
More information about Estonian citizenship can be found here: Estonian citizenship
Monday, 5 November 2018
Every month France 24's TV programme 'Europe Now' visits a different European Union country. This month they are in Estonia! The episode features a range of interesting topics including interviews with President Kaljulaid, Urmas Paet, Marten Kaevats and Ilmar Raag.
Saturday, 3 November 2018
Before his success in the 2015 film The Fencer (Vehkleja) actor Märt Avandi teamed up with fellow Estonian comedian Ott Sepa to produce the comedy series Tujurikkuja. The show ran from 2008 until 2015 and can be viewed in HD on YouTube.. Sepa is also known for his lead role in the 2005 comedy hit Malev.
Thursday, 1 November 2018
Tuesday, 30 October 2018
Friday, 26 October 2018
This year's Gingerbread Mania exhibution has been dedicated to the Republic of Estonia's 100th birthday. The official theme title is 'Eesti' and is sure to include many wonderful delights. No official photographs of the display has been released as yet but it's sure to be great as always!
Gingerbread Mania is located at Pärnu mnt 6 in Tallinn and runs from 6th December 2018 - 6th January 2019. For more information please refer to the official website Piparkoogimaania
Monday, 22 October 2018
The Estonian community in Sydney were thrilled to have the President in town recently. Kersti Kaljulaid was in Australia to meet with Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove to discussed bilateral Estonian-Australian relations. They attended the Invictus Games together, an event established by Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex in 2014 for injured servicemen. This year, Estonia is represented by a 15-member team of EDF veterans.
Let's hope they bring home a few medals!
Friday, 19 October 2018
Narva was once a beautiful Estonian city known for its stunning baroque architecture. Many of Narva's grand buildings were constructed during the 17th century whilst under Swedish rule. The face of Narva forever changed due to World War Two when heavy fighting left the city 98% destroyed. During the Soviet Occupation Estonians were forced to leave the city and the population was replaced with Russian speaking immigrants. Narva resembled nothing of its yesteryears but at least there are photographs to remind us of the beautiful city it once was.
Monday, 15 October 2018
The Tall Ships Races 2021 offers a total of around 1,500 nautical miles of racing in the Baltic Sea. This region has been a popular sea area with Tall Ships from around the world, with up to 100 vessels taking part in previous Baltic race series.
The event will start on Sunday 27 June and continue through until Tuesday 3 August with three fantastic races and a Cruise-in-Company. The race series will take the Tall Ships to five different ports across five countries – Klaipeda in Lithuania, St Petersburg in Russia, Tallinn in Estonia, Mariehamn in Åland and Szczecin in Poland.
For more information, please click here: THE TALL SHIPS RACES 2021: FIVE PORTS ANNOUNCED
Friday, 12 October 2018
A new study from researchers at the Australian National University and University of Nevada in the US has revealed which countries are the world’s biggest bookworms and Estonia tops the list!
Researchers surveyed adults across 31 countries, between the ages of 25 and 65, and asked them how many books they had in their home when they were 16.
On average Australians owned 148 books per household compared to 114 in the US. In Estonia that number is significantly higher at 218 books per home. Furthermore 35% of those Estonian surveyed revealed they in fact owned 350 books or more.
Estonians top the charts with an average of 218 books per house when they were 16.
We love our books!
Thursday, 11 October 2018
Thousands of Estonians were left displaced after World War Two. Many sought refuge in Germany to escape the horrors of the second Soviet Occupation. Helga Merits' new film Coming Home Soon - the refugee children of Geislingen provides an insight into the plight of the Estonian people as they tried to rebuild their lives.
Tuesday, 9 October 2018
If you are like me and enjoy collecting stamps then you'll be pleased to know that the 9th of October is World Post Day. Eesti Post releases many beautiful Estonian stamps throughout the year including this special silver stamp commemorating the Republic of Estonia's 100th birthday.
All of Eesti Post's stamps can be purchased online and shipped anywhere in the world.
For more information, please click here: Eesti Post
Friday, 5 October 2018
For the past eighty years the paper and pulp mill in Kehra has stood tall, a prominent feature in the small community. In honour of the mill's 80th birthday, Kehra museum has an exhibition running until December 1 on the mill's history. Kehra Mill was established in 1937 and on the 25th August 1938 a new sulfate pulp mill was inaugurated at the plant. President Päts was in attendence on the day as was my great-grandfather Arthur Lestal who took numerous photographs of the event. Many of the photographs on display at the exhibution were taken by Arthur.
Photographs taken by Arthur Lestal at the Kehra Mill in 1938.
People waiting at Kehra railway station for the arrival of President Päts.
Inauguration of the new sulfate pulp mill.
Newspaper articles from the opening in 1938.
Kehra Mill was originally 100% stated owned until it was purchased by the Tolaram Group of Singapore in 1995. The mill was then renamed “Horizon Pulp & Paper” Ltd.
For more information: Horizon / Kehra Mill
Sunday, 30 September 2018
On the 27th September 2018 Teet Daaniel completed this third of seven ocean challenges by swimming across The English Channel. Previously he successfully swam across the Strait of Gibraltar from Europe to Africa and the Catalina Channel near Los Angeles.
Teet left the shores of Dover at 1:30am and swam 34 kilometres to reach France. Battling temperature changes and tides, the challenge took 14 hours to complete.
To learn more, this ERR News report includes video : Teet Daaniel ujus esimese eestlasena üle La Manche'i väina
Saturday, 29 September 2018
Andrei and Ksenija are two of Estonia's finest athletes. They are a winning team both on and off the field. Today they tied the knot in Tallinn with close family and friends.
Congratulations cousin Andrei! I wish you and your new bride every happiness in the world!
To see the photo gallery of their special day, please see the Delfi news article:
FOTOD | Hõissa, pulmad! Ksenija Balta ja Andrei Nazarov tegid jumala palge ees oma pikaaegse suhte ametlikuks
Wednesday, 26 September 2018
Tuesday, 25 September 2018
Members of a group studying the history of the anti-Soviet resistance movement of the Forest Brothers have apparently found the remains of a bunker in Southeast Estonia they believe to have been the last hiding place of August Sabbe, who was the last known surviving Forest Brother. Sabbe died in 1978.
A group of researchers found Sabbe's last hiding place in Southeast Estonia, following a local tip. The group was set up five years ago with the aim to further study the Forest Brothers movement using archaeological methods.
Archaeologist Mauri Kiudsoo told the Baltic News Service that they found an underground bunker in Estonia's southeast that dates back to the 1970s that is likely to be Forest Brother August Sabbe's last hiding place. Sabbe died when the Soviet authorities tried to arrest him in 1978.
According to Kiudsoo, the underground bunker located on the edge of a former wetland is dug into the sandy ground and well-hidden. Its layout suggests that Sabbe built the bunker on the site of an earlier one, likely dating back to the 1950s.
The bunker the group found couldn't be that old, as plastic and rubber were used to waterproof the bunker's roof. The condition and estimated production years of those materials make it impossible for the structure to have been built any earlier, Kiudsoo said.
The roof of the bunker fell in after a logging tractor hit the building in the mid-1980s. According to Kiudsoo, the archaeologists also discovered a leather wallet under a tin stove inside.
"We will definitely go on exploring the bunker next year," Kiudsoo said.
August Sabbe, born in 1909, is believed to have been the last Forest Brother, surviving and remaining in hiding until the late 1970s. The KGB finally tracked him down as he was fishing on a river shore on 28 September 1978, almost exactly 40 years ago.
Sabbe died trying to escape, drowning in the river. According to some accounts of the event, it is possible that his captors drowned him.
Source: ERR News
Friday, 21 September 2018
The Wind Sculpted Land is a film about Estonian nature. It features flooded meadows, bogs, beautiful coastlines, together with wild animals and flocks of migrating birds that are actually small worlds of their own. The film was made during 2015-2018 and took more than 400 days out in the field filming birds, animals and different landscapes.
The Wind Sculpted Land is a truly magical journey of Estonia´s unique and scenic nature. The film is part of a film programme dedicated to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Republic of Estonia.
You can watch the trailer below.
The Wind Sculpted Land is a truly magical journey of Estonia´s unique and scenic nature. The film is part of a film programme dedicated to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Republic of Estonia.
You can watch the trailer below.
Sunday, 16 September 2018
If you enjoy the works of Tammsaare and are in need of English translations then you will be thrilled to learn that Ma armastasin sakslast (I loved a German) was recently translated into English. Over the years, many of Tammsaare's novels have been translated into various languages but it has taken 83 years since Ma armastasin sakslast's original publication in Estonian to reach an English audience.
A. H. Tammsaare’s 'I Loved a German' is a gripping love story in which the classic love triangle takes a very untraditional form. The plot is centered around a young Estonian university student who falls in love with Erika, a young Baltic German woman. The Baltic Germans had lost their former aristocratic position in society since Estonia declared its independence. The young German earns her keep as a tutor for an Estonian family, and is not economically well-off. The young man, Oskar, starts courting the girl frivolously, but then falls head-over-heels in love with her.
Before long, the prejudice that an Estonian and a Baltic German are of socially unequal standings starts to haunt the couple. When Oskar goes to ask Erika’s grandfather – a former manor lord – for the girl’s hand, the meeting leaves a deep impression on his soul. All of a sudden, Oskar finds himself wondering if perhaps he doesn’t love the woman in Erika, but rather her grandfather; meaning, her noble descent. Perhaps the 'slave’s blood' of farmhands who had been in the service of Baltic Germans for centuries is manifested in his love, instead?
Anton Hansen Tammsaare is one of Estonia's most beloved authors. His novel Truth and Justice is considered Estonia's best novel of all time. I loved a German can be purchased online at the Wordery: I Loved a German
Wednesday, 12 September 2018
One day. One planet. One goal. Millions of people in 150 countries will unite on Saturday to clean up our world, in the biggest civic action in human history. World Cleanup Day is a great Estonian initiative!
The movement was born 10 years ago in Estonia, when 4% of the population came out to clean the entire country of illegally dumped waste, in a matter of hours. This captured the imaginations of people worldwide, who were inspired to follow suit with the same ambitious ‘one country, one day’ formula.
As Estonia celebrates its 100th anniversary this year, World Cleanup Day 2018 is the country’s gift to the world.
For more information please refer to the official website: https://www.worldcleanupday.org/
Monday, 27 August 2018
One of the things I enjoy doing the most when in Estonia is visiting the places my family used to frequent when they lived there. Much has changed in the country since the 1940s but many things have remained the same or improved in some way. I love visiting places like Maiasmokk Cafe, The Raeapteek and St.Olaf Church. Places I have a connection to which still stand today.
I love old railway stations with their timber interiors and old world charms. For me they represent the Golden Age of the railways. Unfortunately, too many stations throughout the world have become too modernised or get demolished and replaced with ugly glass structures. They lose their character. However, this is not the case in Tartu station. It has been refurbished and maintains many of its original features.
Tartu railway station was established in 1876 when the Tapa–Tartu route was created. The station building was opened in 1877.
The station consists of two platforms with lengths of 260m and 330m.
The station has received a complete overhaul and was re-opened to passengers in 2012.
High ceilings with beautiful timber interiors.
Services from Tallinn to Tartu are operated by Elron. The journey takes approximately two hours.
Thursday, 23 August 2018
On 23 August, the European Day of Remembrance for Victims of Stalinism and Nazism, a new Communism memorial was opened in Tallinn. The memorial lists the names of more than 22,000 people who lost their lives under the communist regime, the majority of them perished far from home, and are buried in unmarked graves. The memorial is located in the Tallinn's Maarjamäe area.
In the summer of 1940, Estonia's military elite and the heroes of the War of Independence were the first to fall victim to Soviet terror. The Red Army then systematically destroyed the fabric of the Republic of Estonia by robbing it of its statehood and defenders.
The Victims of Communism Memorial was built to coincide with Estonia's centenary. It consists of two parts: "The Journey" and "Home Garden." The first consists of a memorial corridor inscribed with the names of more than 22,000 victims. This corridor represents the mercilessness and brutality of the totalitarian regime. The "Home Garden" represents peace and safety, it includes a park with apple trees and bees along the parkside wall.
The wall is inscribed with famous lines from the Juhan Liiv poem "Ta lendab mesipuu poole," (He flies towards the beehive) likening Estonians to bees returning to their hive:
"Ja langevad teele tuhanded
veel koju jõuavad tuhanded
ja viivad vaeva ja hoole
ja lendavad mesipuu poole."
Every family in Estonia lost someone due to the Soviet occupation. Mine was no exception. Lest we forget.
Wednesday, 22 August 2018
As the Soviet Union was a single-party state ruled by the Communist Party, the mere idea that there could be other parties was inconceivable. Yet in August 1988, the first alternative party in the USSR was founded – the Estonian National Independence Party. Watch this short film to learn more about this historic event that took place 30 years ago!
Monday, 20 August 2018
Last night Estonians from around the world sang together to celebrate 100 years of independence. More than 52,000 people joined the choir online via a special app and thousands gathered at the Song Festival Grounds in Tallinn. It was truly a remarkable events that united all Estonians.
Today we celebrate the Day of Restoration of Independence. 27 years ago Estonia restored its independence. It is a day cherished by all. I only wish my grandparents lived long enough to see their beloved Estonia free again. I will celebrate this day in their honour. Long live Estonia! Elagu Eesti!
Friday, 17 August 2018
Now that Estonia's Grand Celebration Week is underway, it's a good time to take a look at some quality keepsakes to mark the occasion. During my last trip to Estonia in May I purchased all three of these books. They make an excellent addition to any Estonian's home.
To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Republic of Estonia, TEA Publishers has produced the ultimate Estonian reference book. Republic of Estonia 100 is a comprehensive encyclopaedia containing everything that defines and characterises Estonia. The book is divided into 6 chapters with a general introductory chapter followed by History, Population, Nature, Economy and Culture. The 160-page hardcover volume provides an overview of how the Republic of Estonia was created, how it lost its independence, what life was like in exile and in occupied Estonia, as well as how independence was restored.
Republic of Estonia 100 is illustrated with more than 1,000 new and historic photographs and numerous maps, charts and tables. Over 250 authors, compilers, editors, consultants and illustrators contributed to the production of this book. Copies of Republic of Estonia 100 are available in both Estonian and English.
If you take pride in your parish colours then you are sure to find this book interesting. Eesti Kihelkondade Värvid was written by Reet Piiri from the Estonian National Museum. The book is a great reference tool for sourcing parish colours and makes it easy to get the tones right by providing all the colour codes. Great for all craft projects!
Estonians have a deep connection to nature and the forest which is why it has a strong presence in Estonian folklore. Tales of supernatural beings, crafty animals and people living in the forest have entertained Estonians for generations. In honour of the Republic of Estonia's 100th birthday, Deep in the Forest has been published in English and features a collection of 100 fairytales relating to the forest. Many of the fairytales that appear in the book were written in the mid to late 1800s and are an enjoyable read. I highly recommend!