Thursday, 30 May 2019

Special release: 150th anniversary of the Estonian Song Festival

In celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Estonian Song Festival a special commemorative coin and stamp has been released. Both items can be purchased individually or in a gift pack.

The stamp was designed by Indrek Ilves who said the stamp block depicts the Tallinn Song Festival Grounds that are familiar to all of us. "This place is a symbol that every Estonian knows and has played an important role in the restoration of our country's independence and culture'. 

20,000 commemorative stamps were printed. 2500 of them are in gift boxes and 2,500 are in envelopes with the commemorative coin.

The stamp can be purchased here:

Yesterday the commemorative coin went on sale at a special event held in the Independence Hall of Eesti Pank.  A total of one million coins will be issued and placed in circulation. More information can be found here: Eesti Pank is opening its doors to sell the Song Celebration coin

Nationwide festival of diaspora Estonians begins - ERR NEWS

Wednesday marked the opening of a nationwide festival of "väliseesti" — or diaspora Estonian — exhibitions that will continue through the end of 2019. The festival features exhibitions curated by or in cooperation with diaspora Estonian communities.

The first of these exhibitions, "Two Edges of a Lifespan," arrived in Estonia from the Museum of Estonians Abroad (VEMU) in Toronto and opened at the Estonian Literary Museum in Tartu on Wednesday.

Memory institutions both in Estonia and abroad have curated a significant number of exhibitions dedicated to various chapters and aspects of Estonian diaspora history. Some of these have already previously been exhibited in Estonia, but several will be making their debut in the homeland this year.

The festival program includes 16 different exhibitions from Estonia, Canada, Australia and the U.S., which in the first stage of the festival this summer will be exhibited in a total of 13 memory institutions in six cities — Tallinn, Tartu, Pärnu, Rakvere, Valga and Võru.

Topics covered by the exhibits range from tales of escape and life in displaced persons (DP) camps to the activities, hobbies and achievements of "väliseesti" communities worldwide. In addition to the stories of World War II-era refugees and their descendants, exhibits will also examine even earlier emigration to Canada and Siberia.

In addition to historical exhibitions, the festival will also include photo exhibits as well as displays of Estonian handicrafts, among other things. One exhibition even focuses on the stories of Baltic people's, including Baltic-Germans', escape from the region and subsequent building of a new home in Canada.

New ESTO exhibition to premiere

The festival will also feature a few brand new exhibitions as well, including "ESTO — The Global Keeper of Estonianness," a joint VEMU-Estonian National Museum (ERM) project, as well as "Estonian Sports in Canada" at the Estonian Sports and Olympic Museum.

Later this year, the exhibitions will make another circuit around the country, this time at new locations in order to ensure that they reach as many visitors as possible.

Check out the ESTO 2019 homepage for more information.

Source: ERR News.

Sunday, 26 May 2019

NOBE: The first electric car made in Estonia

Nobe set out with a mission - to make electric cars cool. They believe mainstream cars have become too soulless, common and mundane. So two years ago they set out to build a modern classic. They wanted to build a car that would make everyone stop and look – in the exact same way that everyone stops and looks at an old VW Beetle and get that warm feeling inside. Nobe designers also wanted to build a car that was both agile and practical as well as easy to park and fun to drive.

Car features:
Nobe cars are delightfully retro in its styling inside and out. The three-wheeled Nobe has a 137-mile range and an easily maneuverable compact teardrop shape. They are produced with recycled and recyclable parts and has a removable roof to let in the sun. Nobe currently has two models available - the Nobe 100 and the Nobe 100 GT.

For more information, please refer to their website:

Friday, 24 May 2019

What is true ancient Estonian food?

Ester Oras is a senior research fellow of archaeology and analytical chemistry at the University of Tartu and recently published this article. The article was first published in Postimees (in Estonian) under the title: 'Ester Oras – mis on tõeline vana eesti toit?' Oras's work involves researching the molecule deposits fouind in human bones and pottery that helps us understand what our distant ancestors ate.

You can read the English version of her article here.

Every nation and region has its own pride in the culinary field – such as a historically developed favorite or a trademark-status edible article. What would be the Estonians’ so-called “own” food?

The first thing to come into most people’s minds would probably be black bread, made of rye. But exactly how ancient is this “old Estonian thing”? Is there anything or anybody that could compete with black bread, at least in history? And how deep do the roots of our modern eating habits go?

The answers most overarching in time come from the field of archaeology, especially studies of ancient food culture combining the latest analytical methods of chemistry, biology, geology, and physics, allowing us to look back at the coming of age of our menu, spanning thousands of years.

A short history of rye

In fact, rye has the shortest history of the cereals growing in our geographical location. The first local cereals were barley, wheat, and oats instead. Pollen diagrams indicating early cereal cultures go back 4,000-5,000 years.

Barley grains with direct radiocarbon dating found in a former fortified settlement at Asva, Saaremaa, and Iru near Tallinn originate from the Bronze Age about 1,000 years BCE.

Nevertheless, rye as an important food culture took root (pun not intended) in local areas no earlier than in the Middle Iron Age (500-600 BC), with a sudden jump in popularity when the Vikings made waves in the Baltic Sea area, as well as in the whole of Europe.

The overall cooling of the climate, as well as the spread of slash-and-burn cultivation of fields in less easily cultivatable areas are thought to be the causes. Of course, a slightly more modest “age” doesn’t lessen the iconic status black bread has in our culture. However, from the age perspective, good old and tasty karask, made of barley, as well as whole-wheat white bread, should be included on the pedestal as well.

Game animals, such as moose, were the main source of food at the earliest known 
settlements in Estonia. 

So, archaeologically speaking, grains are a rather late addition to our menu. Instead, animal bones from the Mesolithic period (approx. 9,000 BCE to 5,000 BCE), discovered at the earliest known settlements in Estonia, show that various animal products had the main role – it looks like a paleo diet, indeed! Game animals, such as moose, deer, and wild boar, were important, but a considerable amount of food was made from various fish and marine mammals, including seals.

Lipid residue analysis of the earliest pottery found in Estonia (Narva ware pottery, from ca. 5,000 BCE) resulted in finding specific biomolecules (biomarkers) linked to aquatic organisms. The knowledge that fish is good for you was probably there even in the Mesolithic days: probably not at the level of omega-3 fatty acids, but fish was very likely seen as a nutritious and protein-rich food that also provided useful by-products, such as lamp oils, ointments, etc.

Adoption of pottery as an important cultural innovation was most likely the result of the development of extensive fishing, also coping with seasonal abundance of fish. The latter led people to find novel ways for processing and preserving this essential food source. In fact, the latest studies show that the notorious Swedish surströmming (fermented herring) has its roots in the Stone Age as well.

Without a doubt, various plant products were a considerable addition to our menu: in the Stone Age these came mostly from the forest (berries, mushrooms, nuts), and in later periods cereal cultures were developed.

So it would be wrong to claim that our food history has purely carnivore undercurrents. Instead, it’s quite likely that meat products weren’t a major part of our everyday food pyramid. Meat and other animal products are often linked to special events and rituals, as well as the elitist food culture. However, stable isotopes measured in human bones and lipid analysis research of ceramic vessels show that in ancient times plant-based food wasn’t entirely the main thing either.

Thus, we didn’t grow up exclusively on a diet of flour porridge and bread. Here it might be suitable to highlight studies of early hominids – the ancestors of Homo sapiens (the smart human!) – linking the development of brain and cognitive abilities with an intake of animal products, especially bone marrow.

This doesn’t mean that eating lots of meat would necessarily improve one’s mental abilities, but surely animal products have lots of essential ingredients, the lack of which could lead us both mentally and physically into danger, as these are difficult to compensate with purely plant products. The moral of the story: keep on following the age-old wisdom and eat in a balanced and modest manner!

Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Just arrived!

I was thrilled to find this in my postbox today. Tammsaare's Tõde ja õigus translated into English. I'm looking forward to reading this great Estonian classic once again!

Vargamäe will make an excellent addition to my Tammsaare collection!

Sunday, 19 May 2019

Eurovision Flashback 2004 Estonia with Neiokõsõ

It was a very disappointing Eurovision for 2019 and it wasn't just because Estonia scored badly (the worst in years) but because the overall quality of the songs was very poor. There were so many forgettable numbers and nothing stood out or had the 'wow' factor,  even special guest Madonna sang flat at times with her hit Like a Prayer. The Netherlands won this year's Eurovision Song Contest with 492 points. Estonia was 19th place with 86 points.

Over the years Estonia has produced some really good Eurovision entries and I must admit I completely forgot about Neiokõsõ  from 2004.  Folk music doesn't appeal to everyone and putting forward such a song at Eurovision can be a risky endeavour but it's always worth a try!

Thursday, 16 May 2019


Ott Tänak is Estonia's most successful rally driver and now a film about his life is currently screening across Estonia.Whether you are into car racing or not, it's an interesting insight into the life of a true champion. Just last Sunday he won the inaugural WRC Rally in Chile. What a legend!

'Silmapiir' by Birgit

This song is quite popular in Estonia right now.

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

Today is Tallinn Day!

Tallinn gained Lübeck city rights in 1248, gaining admission to the Hanseatic League of European cities. Tallinn Day commemorates this historical event with a day full of cultural and fun activities. In 2019, the focus will be on the Estonian language. 

Some of the highlights of this year's event will include free entrance to all the different branches of the Tallinn City Museum including their main building, the Kiek in de Kök Fortifications Museum, the Museum of Photography, the Children's Museum Miiamilla, and the House of Peter the Great. A free concert will take place on Vabaduse väljak providing an excellent opportunity to immerse yourself in Estonian language and culture.

Tuesday, 14 May 2019

INGER - Coming Home

Inger Fridolin made it to the Eesti Laul final with this cute song called 'Coming Home'. Many hoped that Inger would represent Estonia at Eurovision this year but that honour has gone to Swedish singer Vikor Crone with his song 'Storm'. Inger finished 6th at Eesti Laul and the first semi-final of Eurovision starts tonight!

Sunday, 12 May 2019

Head Emadepäeva / Happy Mother's Day!

To all those wonderful mothers out there - Happy Mother's Day! Sadly I won't be spending Mother's Day day with my own mother this year however I did spend some quality time with her last month while I was in Australia. Sometimes it's hard being apart from the people I love, but I always try to stay connected by sending little treats in the post. Even though we are apart I want them know I am thinking of them!

Mothers play such a pivitol role in our lives and thank goodness some of their jobs got easier with  modern innovation.

Wednesday, 8 May 2019

A. H. Tammsaare's Truth and Justice soon to be released in English

Estonia's most beloved classic novel Tõde ja õigus has been translated into many languages over the years but only once into English. In 2014 Haute Culture Books published a deluxe volume of Tammsaare's Truth and Justice with a limited print run. The translation by Inna Feldbach and Alan Peter Trei has since been acquired by Scotland's Vagabond Voices publishing house and will soon be released in an easily accessible paperback edition. The novel will be released on 14 May 2019 under the title 'Vargamäe: Volume 1 of the Truth and Justice Pentology'. 

Vargamäe: Volume 1 of the Truth and Justice Pentology has 640 pages and has the following ISBN: 978-1-908251-90-9. It can be purchased directly from the publisher here: Vargamäe

Monday, 6 May 2019

Discover beautiful Hiiumaa!

The second largest island in Estonia is Hiiumaa. It is known for its historic lighthouses, untouched nature and makes for a great rural getaway all year round. Take a look for yourself!