Tuesday, 31 December 2019

Farewell 2019, Hello 2020

As 2019 comes to a close and the dawn of a new decade is upon us, its time to reflect at the year that was and take any lessons learnt into the new year. Some of you may have had a wonderful year and achieved great things, some of you may have struggled whilst others may have experienced loss in some way. For me, I had some nice moments during 2019 but it was also the year I lost my mother and so I will always remember 2019 with some sadness. I feel very optimistic about 2020, I see myself doing many wonderful things but it saddens me that my mother won't be there to share it with us. She loved to be a part of everything.

Friday, 27 December 2019

Piparkoogid - always a favourite at Christmas time

It's always nice to hear from readers who appreciate my blog posts. Colin in Australia recently contacted me to say he has been using my piparkoogid recipe for the past six years with great success.  This year he shared some of his delicious biscuits with some of his Estonian friends who were thrilled to taste them as they reminded them of home. They brought such joy!

Colin kindly sent me these photos. His piparkoogid look amazing!

His friends were so impressed that they gave Colin this baking award.
Well done Colin! Proud of you!

Neil in Ireland also contacted me during the festive season. He and his Estonian wife Triin love to bake piparkoogid with their two children at Christmas time. Neil gets his dough sent over from his in-laws in Estonia. It doesn't get any more authentic than that!  

Thanks for sharing everyone! Have a wonderful 2020!

Tuesday, 24 December 2019

Merry Christmas! Häid Jõule!

Christmas is the most important holiday celebrated in Estonia. For Estonians, Christmas is a mixture of the traditional, the modern, the secular and the religious. Everyone starts their celebrations today. Merry Christmas everyone! Enjoy the festivities!

Saturday, 21 December 2019

How to make Glögi - Estonian mulled wine

A favourite drink at Christmas time is of course mulled wine. The hot beverage is known by many names in different countries, in Estonia it's glögi, Scandinavians call it glögg and for German speakers it's known as Glühwein. Although glögi and Glühwein are similar in nature, there are two major differences between the drinks. Glögi has a stronger alcohol content compared to Glühwein and water is not added to the mix when it is made.

If you have tried glögi while you have been in Estonia and would like to try making it for yourself, here is an easy recipe for you to follow. Glögi is a traditional Estonian Christmas drink that is wonderfully delicious and will indeed get you feeling merry!

Glögi recipe

One bottle (750ml) sweet red wine
100ml spirit (vodka, rum, brandy or whisky)
8 cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1 orange (squeezed plus zest)
1 lemon (squeezed plus zest)
3 slices fresh ginger
Cardamom seeds from two pods
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp nutmeg
10 tbsp almonds
10 tbsp raisins

In a large saucepan pour the wine, orange and lemon juice then add the cloves, cardamom seeds, ginger, cinnamon, nutneg and sugar. Add your spirit of choice then mix in a bit of citrus zest. Cook on medium heat for 10 minutes to allow the sugar to disolve and flavours to blend together in the wine. Do not boil otherwise the alcohol will evaporate. Place almonds and raisins in each mug. To serve, strain the mix and pour over the almonds and raisins. Ensure you have a spoon at hand to scoop them up at the end.

Sunday, 15 December 2019

Estonian video game Disco Elysium wins big at Games Awards 2019

Estonia may not be known for its video games but a few days ago the team at AZ / UM won four times at the Games Awards 2019 held in Los Angeles. AZ / UM  took home more awards than anyone else on the night making Disco Elysium one of the most successful video games of the year. Disco Elysium won Best Narrative, Best Independent Game, Best RPG and Fresh Indie Game (ZA/UM). 

Disco Elysium was released in October 2019 and is praised for its depth, memorable characters, customisation, and storytelling.  Disco Elysium is a role playing video game in which the player is a detective that solves  a crime.  

Tuesday, 10 December 2019

6 things you didn't know about Estonia

1. The world's first Christmas tree was erected on Tallinn's Town Hall Square in 1441.
It was a tradition started by Baltic German merchants who decorated the first tree with fruits and small toys. The tradition soon became popular in Germany then spread throughout the world after Queen Victoria in England had a Christmas tree placed in her palace (at Albert's request).

2. Many Estonians have 'kodu nimi's' (home names). This is an affectionate name used within the family that starts at childhood and sometimes continues through to adulthood. Sometimes the kodu nimi resembles the first name or sometimes it is a completely different name. For example my grandfather's name is Alexander but everyone in the family called him 'Buba'. My father's kodunimi is 'Didi' and my cousin Ralf was often called 'Kroosu'. Names such Juhan often have the kodunimi 'Juku' and Jaanus, 'Jansu'.

3. The Estonia word for football is 'Jalgpall'.  Leg ball.

4.  Santa Claus is called 'Jõuluvana'. This word literally means Christmas old.

5. Estonia has one of the largest collections of folk songs in the world. Over 133,000 songs on record.

6.  The coldest temperature ever recorded in Estonia was -43.5C on 17 January 1940 in Jõgeva.

Tuesday, 3 December 2019

Estonian Christmas gift ideas for 2019

It is hard to believe that Christmas is only a few weeks away and another year is almost over. Where has the time gone? Now that we are all starting to prepare for the festive season,  no doubt Christmas gift ideas are not far from our minds. If you are having trouble deciding what you buy your loved ones this year, here are a few suggestions.

2019 was a big year for Anton Hansen Tammsaare's Truth & Justice (Tõde ja õigus). Volume I was published for the first time in an English translated paperback.

In celebration of EV100 a new Truth & Justice film was released in cinemas earlier this year and is now available on DVD.

For those fluent in Estonian, a new complete edition of Tõde ja õigu is now available in bookstores.

In terms of music, Jaak Joala's  'Arm mu ainus aare' is the number one selling album in Estonia at the moment.

For those who missed this year's Estonian Song Festival, this might interest you.

If you like collector coins, this is definitely one to add to the collection.

When celebrating, you can never go wrong with a bottle of Vana Tallinn.

Always practical - an Estonian wall calendar.

Or, if you are like me and love Estonian handicrafts, something from The Estonian Handicraft House might interest you.

Monday, 2 December 2019

Estonian education ranked 1st in Europe

Here's an interesting article published by the BBC about Estonia's education system. Pupils in Estonia have outperformed teenagers in other European countries in Pisa tests. Great news!

To read the full article, please click here: Pisa rankings: Why Estonian pupils shine in global tests