Tuesday, 29 July 2014

The 2014 Estonian Statistical Yearbook - Out Now!

Want to know more about the environmental, social and economic situation in Estonia for 2013? The Estonian Statistical Yearbook will tell you. Covering a range of topics accompanied by detailed maps, tables and figures the yearbook will give you a clear picture of important statistical indicators as they were in 2013 complete with comparisons of how Estonia measures up against other countries.  The bilingual book is written in both Estonian and English, consists of 440 pages and contains an extensive glossary and index. 

Further information can be found here: http://www.stat.ee/72570

Estonia's One and Only Poominator

Mart Poom is undoubtedly one of Estonia's greatest football players.  Click here to read the full story:  http://www.fifa.com/classicfootball/players/do-you-remember/newsid=2407919/index.html?intcmp=fifacom_hp_module_news

Monday, 28 July 2014

Discover the Charm of Naissaar Island

One of the beautiful things about Estonia is not just its spectacular mainland with so much to offer but also its 1,500 islands just waiting to be explored.  Of course not all these islands are inhabitable and they vary considerably in size but when it comes to celebrations, Jaanipäev in particular, Estonians love to retreat to the islands and party! Saaremaa is usually the place of choice for this occasion but for nature lovers who prefer a bit of tranquillity, Naissaar is a great alternative.

Naissaar (which means women's island) is located a short 8.5 km from Estonia's mainland and covers an area of 18.6 km². Until the Second World War Naissaar was inhabited by Estonians of Swedish origin totalling around 450 people. These all fled due to the Soviet occupation. Probably the most famous resident from Naissaar was Bernhard Schmidt.  He was an optician who invented the Schmidt telescope in 1930.   

During Swedish and Tsarist times Naissaar had a fortress in a bid to protect Tallinn from would be invaders. After the Soviets arrived they too used the island for military purposes, closing it to the public and building a naval mines factory there. In 1995, two years after the last Soviet soldier had left, Naissaar was converted into a nature reserve. Today Naissaar is renowned for its beautiful untouched forests and historic sights which include the working narrow-gauge railway, Soviet naval mine factory, museum, church and lighthouse. Many of the former Swedish buildings located at Naissaar are currently being restored.

Did you know that Naissaar Island is also known for its large blueberries! They are now ripe and ready to pick! 

Tallinn Cruises offers day trips to Naissaar, please refer to their website for more information. http://tallinn-cruises.com/naissaar/

Friday, 25 July 2014

JA-YE Europe Student Company of the Year Competition 2014 - Tallinn

This year the JA-YE Europe student company of the year competition is taking place in Tallinn. For three days, 22-25 July 2014 an exhibition of innovative ideas from students across Europe can be seen at the Estonian Concert Hall and on display in the Viru Centre. The event sees many aspiring entrepreneurs to come together and receive the support and encouragement they deserve- Not to be missed!

Click here for more information:

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Five Estonian Cures for a Hangover

Alcohol consumption laws have recently changed in Estonia. From July 1st 2014 it became legal to drink alcohol in public places under certain circumstances. This now means people in Estonia can enjoy a bottle of wine during a picnic which is common in other parts of Europe.

Looking back on some of the previous alcohol laws in Estonia, the government have made some positive changes by limiting the sale of alcohol at night to encourage responsible drinking.  Ten years ago you could buy alcohol in Estonia 24 hours a day from virtually everywhere, including the little kiosks on the streets. Nowadays the sale of alcohol in shops is restricted, from 10pm until 10am it can only be purchased in bars and restaurants (not for consumption off the premises) and this law is in force in all counties of Estonia.

Unfortunately black market activity has emerged as a result of these restrictions. In recent years there has been a rise taxi bookings in Tallinn, not because somebody wants to go somewhere but because it was known that taxi drivers often sold liquor from the boots of their vehicles.  It became a popular home delivery service until authorities got wind of it and instituted a major crackdown. Another method used by those involved in the illegal sale of alcohol was via the parcel lockers system. All people had to do was buy bottle of booze on-line, nominate which post locker to collect it from, then go and pick it up. It was that simple. The hidden danger here of course is the threat it posed to minors. As the whole transaction was completed on-line with no face to face contact involved, under age drinkers with access to a parcel locker account could easily get their hands on liquor. Police have also become aware of this tactic and those found guilty are subject to some fairly hefty fines.

If, on the other hand you are a good law abiding person who is organised and stocks up on your booze prior to your party or gathering then you probably don't have too much to worry about, that is, until the next morning. There's no crime in having a good night out or having a few drinks too many, we all need to let our hair down from time to time. But if you wake up one morning feeling worst for wear, a bit icky, then you may be in need of an affective remedy.

During the old times in Estonia it was quite common for the woman of the household to keep a health book full of home remedies for various ailments. Some of these treatments may have been more effective than others but if you're in a spot of bother and looking for a hangover cure, why not give one of these a try?

1. Vodka Socks. This is an old Estonian remedy that has been used for generations. It apparently works for well for all kinds of ailments including hangovers. What you need -  a thin pair of cotton socks, one pair of warm socks, vodka, water and a cup of hot tea.

Method - In a bowl mix 2/3 water with 1/3 vodka then soak the thin socks in the liquid mix. Squeeze the socks so they're not too soppy then put them on and cover with the warm pair.  Then you go to bed and drink the tea and hopefully you will sweat the toxins out of your system!

2.  Drink the water from the gherkins (pickles) jar. Many older Estonians swear by this and claim its an excellent way to be rid of a hangover.

3. Eat toast or crackers. The carbohydrates soak up the alcohol in your system and alleviates nausea.

4. Drink kefir (sour milk).

5. Eat potatoes with milk. Too much alcohol in the system can reduce your bodies potassium and calcium levels. You need to replenish your mineral levels in order to bounce back.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Estonia Offers its Condolences for Flight MH17

A condolence book has been placed in the Netherlands Embassy in Tallinn for any members of the public wishing to express their sympathies for the victims of flight MH17. The world stands united during the aftermath of this horrific tragedy.

On board flight MH17 was Malaysian researcher Ng Shi Ing who had recently spent three days in Estonia with her sister and young son. Kalev sweets were found at the crash site. May the victims receive the dignified burials they rightfully deserve and justice be swiftly carried out.

Kadriorg Park Celebrates its 296th Birthday Today!

Every year Kadriorg Park celebrates its birthday with various concerts and tours. This years main programme includes a circus show at 4pm, the Karl-Erik Taukar band at 6pm and the Corelli music band at 7pm. More information can be found at the official website: http://www.kadriorupark.ee/

Friday, 18 July 2014

Estonian Patriots - Ageeda Paavel & Aili Jürgenson

Before the Bronze Soldier existed in Tallinn, another monument once stood in its place. Many elderly Estonians might remember the blue wooden pyramid with the red Soviet star on top that was once located at Tõnismäe, but for the younger generation they might not be aware of its history and the two courageous Estonian girls who blew it up.

When the Soviet Army reoccupied Estonia in 1944 they systematically went about destroying important Estonian memorials including military cemeteries and other historic monuments honouring those who had fought in the Estonian War of Independence. Estonians were outraged to witness such vile acts of desecration carried out in their country. Many patriotic Estonians made a stand against the Soviets and rebelled, among them was fifteen year old Ageeda Paavel and her fourteen year old school friend Aili Jürgenson.

The two school girls could not bear to see their beloved monuments disappear one by one while the red star on the pyramid displayed Soviet pride. They knew they had to do something about it. With the help of a friend, the two girls gained access to explosives and, on the night of 8th May 1946, they blew up the Soviet pyramid monument. Their initiative inspired others to commit similar acts in Rakvere and Tartu.

Newspapers did not report the incident, authorities hushed it up and quickly rebuilt the pyramid in time for Victory Day. It was later replaced with the Bronze Soldier in 1947.

Ageeda and Aili were arrested and found guilty of being under age terrorists. They were then sent to Gulags to work as forced labourers. The girls managed to survive their ordeal and returned to Estonia in 1970. In February 1998 Ageeda and Aili were awarded the Estonian Order of the Cross of the Eagle for resisting the Soviet regime.

14 year old Aili Jürgenson.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union Aili has been politically active in the Estonian Pro Patria party.

 Estonian Order of the Cross of the Eagle medal.

The former site of the Soviet pyramid monument and Bronze Soldier is now a public garden in Tallinn. (Located across the road from the National Library of Estonia.)

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Celebrating 40,000 Pageviews!

It was wonderful to discover this morning that a new milestone has been reached - 40,000 pageviews! Thank you! It's a great pleasure for me to write this blog and share my knowledge about Estonia.  I absolutely love the Estonian countryside, folk art, customs, traditional and not to mention glorious bread! There are so many things that make up the unique Estonian culture. In time I hope to experience them all then of course, write about them!

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Metsakalmistu Cemetery / Tallinn Forest Cemetery

If you're someone like me whose family left Estonia during the Soviet occupation then you will understand that discovering the ancestral homeland is a gradual process. It is often the stories told by our grandparents, family history research and famous historic sites that prompt us to visit the initial places. Since my family returned to Estonia in 2003 I've endeavoured to fully experience Estonia in every way possible.

A very interesting place I visited last month was the Metsakalmistu Cemetery in Tallinn. Funnily enough, I only recently became aware of this cemetery despite the fact that three of my close relatives are buried there! So what's so special about Metsakalmistu cemetery? I'll tell you.

Metsakalmistu (Tallinn's Forest Cemetery) is the cultural cemetery of Estonia.  It's the final resting place for many famous and well respected Estonians who have made a valuable contribution to Estonian history and culture. The cemetery was established in 1933 originally on 24.2 ha of land which has now expanded to 48.3 ha. In order to maintain the natural forest appearance, certain rules must be adhered to which include headstones not exceeding 1.5 metres in height and iron crosses and fencing are forbidden.

The cemetery is divided into sections for plots allotted to writers, artists, scientists, composers, doctors, journalists, architects, sportsmen etc. One of the unique features of the cemetery which I have not seen anywhere else in the world (to date) is the fact that on several of the graves, instead of the traditional engraving of the deceased name, their signature is in its place. I found this quite surprising and of course there's always a few names where it's hard to read the handwriting!

The first person buried at Metsakalmistu was writer Eduard Vilde on 30 December 1933. You can also find Anton Hansen Tammsaare, Paul Keres, Lydia Koidula and Konstantin Päts buried here as well men who fought in the Estonian War of Independence. 

Metsakalmistu Cemetery is located at Kloostrimetsa tee 33, Tallinn. Tel: +372 623 9917

Limestone chapel

Theatre section of the cemetery.

Päts family plot.

Konstantin Päts and wife Helma

Lennart Meri

Lydia Koidula

Paul Keres

Lennart Meri's, Paul Keres and Lydia Koidula's graves are all in close proximity to one another.

Hansen family graves.

Grave of Anton Hansen Tammsaare. 

Georg Ots

Günther Reindorff

Interesting headstones

Voldemar Lender

Monday, 14 July 2014

Estonia's Ice Age Centre

The Estonian Ice Age Centre located in Tartu is a unique attraction that makes learning about science and history fun. Open every day from 11am until 6pm, tickets are 7 for adults and 4 for children.

More information can be found at: http://www.jaaaeg.ee/

Sunday, 13 July 2014

The New International Name of Eesti Post is Omniva

Estonian state-owned postal company Eesti Post has adopted Omniva as its new name for international markets.
According to the company, the new name symbolises the company's logistics solutions and activities on the Baltic market. According to CEO Aavo Karmas a local postal company has become a logistics partner that offers all-in-one or omni-channel solutions and operates in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania as well as in other states.

To read more, please click on the link below:



Ten Reasons Why Estonia Stands Out From the Crowd

In case you don't already know, click on the link and find out!


Friday, 11 July 2014

Lotte Theme Park Opening Soon!

Estonia's favourite cartoon character Lotte is finally getting her own theme park - 'Lottemaa'. Opening on 26 July 2014 Lottemaa is located in Tahkurand which is a 15 minute drive from Pärnu.

In case you haven't heard of Lotte, she is the ultimate Estonian cartoon heroine and star of many beloved films of recent years. Created by Andrus Kivirähk, Heiki Ernitsa and Janno Pöldma she first graced Estonian television screens in 2000 and has been a huge success ever since. The cartoon series tells the story of Lotte, the talking puppy girl and her adventures with her best friend, a cat named Bruno. The two protagonists live in a town of inventors where Lotte's father is the greatest inventor of all!

The theme park consists of 12.4 hectares and was built on the site of a former Soviet missile base. The heavily forested area has kept many of its natural features which includes a beach.

Ticket Prices:
  Adults:   15 
Parking is available for 600 cars.

More information can be found at the official Lottemaa website.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Kolga Manor Finally Gets New Owner | News | ERR

I was pleased to read today that Kolga Manor has recently been purchased and is in the process of being restored. Kolga was the first manor house I ever visited in Estonia and I remember finding the property delightful despite its dilapidated condition. I've eaten in the restaurant there several times with my family and once was surprised to see a waitress who looked just like my sister! It would be wonderful to see this property restored to its former glory!

Click here to read more about the plans for Kolga:
Kolga Manor Finally Gets New Owner | News | ERR

Watch the Videos and Relive the Moments of the Estonian Song & Dance Celebrations 2014

Courtesy of ERR you can now watch all three days of the Estonian Song & Dance Celebrations online. To view the first concert 'Touched by Time' please click on the link below.

Vaata uuesti XXVI laulupeo I kontserti 'Aja puudutus' | Kultuur | ERR

The second day concert 'Time to Touch' features the mixed choirs and grand finale. What a spectacular three days it was!



You can watch the dance celebration here:

This stunning aerial photograph of Tallinn was taken by Kristian Kruuser.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Celebrate Laulupidu with Kalev!

To commemorate the Estonian Song and Dance Celebration Kalev has released three limited edition designs on their 100g chocolate bars. The beautiful wrappers capture the essence of the festival and make a nice keepsake. The chocolates are available from February until August 2014 and part of profits go towards a scholarship fund to support Estonian choral and dance movements.

To discover more about the world of Kalev Chocolates, please click here:

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Ten Fun Facts about the 2014 Estonian Song & Dance Festival

The wait is over, the 26th Song and 19th Estonian Dance Festival are finally upon us. The procession has taken place from Freedom Square to the Song Festival Grounds and for the next two days the largest choir in the world will be leaving you spellbound with their beautiful, uplifting songs.  To give you an idea of what the festival consists of this year, here are ten fun facts:

1. A total of 30,485 singers will be performing at the song festival  (21,681 females & 9,164 males) as well as 9,188 dancers.  

2. Of the participants 1,450 of them live abroad. They have travelled from Germany, Switzerland, Finland, Norway, Russia, Ukraine, Sweden, Belgium, UK and from as far away as Canada, Australia, USA and Asia.

3. The average age of participants is 26 years old. The youngest is 6, the oldest woman is 93 and the oldest man is 97 years old.

4. The most popular female names among participants are Laura, Katriin and Tiina.

5.  The most popular male names among participants are Markus, Andres and Martin.

6. Approximately 333 participants will celebrate their birthday during the festival.

7. If all the wristbands of participants were to be lined up it would create a ribbon 14 km long.

8. During the rehearsal days of the festival, participants consumed 7 tonnes of bread and 50 tonnes of the special Song Celebration soup.

9. More than 20,000 people have been accommodated in more than 50 schools in Tallinn.

10. The Song Festival Grounds will fit approximately 100,000 people during the celebrations!

"Tuljak" - Estonian Song Celebration

The 'Tuljak' has been performed at every Estonian Song Festival since 1934.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Five Estonian Naming Traditions

Last year when my sister was pregnant with her fifth child, it inspired  me to write about popular Estonian children's names.  This year however, would you believe my sister is pregnant again with baby number six! So I will continue this theme and share some Estonian naming traditions.

Traditionally, Estonian children are named after one of their grandparents.

Babies are either baptised in church or at home and a feast usually takes place afterwards.

It was customary for Estonian children to have three godparents. If the child was a boy then he would have two male and one female godparents, and if the child was a girl, she would have two female and one male godparent.

Traditionally, the mother is ultimately responsible for naming the child and after the name is officially bestowed, the child is passed from hand to hand of every guest and given blessings and gifts.

Children often had two middles names. It was common for the middle names of the child to be taken from the first name of one or both of the godparents. This has changed however, today some Estonian children have no middle names at all!