Tuesday, 7 July 2020

Baltic States outperform the rest of Europe in dealing with the Coronavirus crisis

The world is currently facing the worst public health and economic crisis in a century. As of 20th June 2020, around 463,000 people had died from Covid-19 across the globe. Many countries responded swiftly to the crisis and took action whilst countries like the United States failed to act and are now experiencing the devastating results. All countries need to strengthen the resilience of their health systems and prevention programs. Estonia ranks number 5 in dealing with the COVID19 pandemic among OECD members, according to the Sustainable Development Report 2020. Well done.

You can read the full report here: Sustainable Development Report 2020

Sunday, 5 July 2020

How to make Estonia rye bread from a starter (DIY- Cooking with Tammo)

I thought I would share this video today as it shows how Estonians living abroad (Canada in this case) continue to keep Estonian traditions alive in their adopted homeland. I quite enjoyed watching this video as I picked up a few tips. Thanks Tammo! 

Monday, 29 June 2020

Tallinn University Study: Why do we speak 'Estonglish'?

Helin Kask, a doctoral student at Tallinn University recently completed a study of the linguistic changes in Estonia. Kask reports that the Estonian language has changed throughout history and had most contact with both the Russian and German languages, but after Estonia regained independence, the language has been busy incorporating more words from the West where the influence of the English language, in particular, has begun to increase. The Internet plays a big role here, Kask states.

In her study Kask found the definition of a word is the main the reason why English words and phrases are used in Estonian. This is mostly because words and expressions with a specific meaning often do not have an exact match in Estonian. 

For example, it is difficult to find a one-word match for the English word "outfit", because in Estonian it is "riietus" (English: clothing) which, unlike the English word, does not include accessories, shoes, etc.

English discourse particles are also trending in Estonia to express emotion. Expressions such  as 'oh my god'  (jumal küll), "anyway" (igatahes), "last but not least" (viimaks), or "whatever" (mida iganes) are becoming more popular. Also, words with a strong emotional connection are often borrowed from English, e.g. "I'm so excited"(erutatud), or "I love it!" (ma armastan seda).

These changes in the Estonian language is a reflection of globalisation, the era in which we live and the ubiquity of the English language. 

Thursday, 25 June 2020

Go Baltic shopping with Nord Haus

I recently found this website and was pleased to discover another Baltic design house in the market. Nord Haus produces a range of homewares including linen and ceramics using Nordic and Baltic designs. Part of the latest range uses designs from Muhu, Poide-Saaremaa and Kolga-Jaani in Estonia, along with prints from Krustpils and Rucava in Latvia.

You can browse the Nord Haus website here.

Tuesday, 23 June 2020

Head võidupüha ja head Jaanipäeva!

If you live in Estonia then you are lucky. You have a two-day public holiday. For the rest of us Estonians living abroad, it's work as usual but there's sure to be some celebrations tonight for Jaanipäev. This evening I will have Estonian food on my table, Estonian music playing and the beloved blue, black and white flag on display. Jaanipäev is one of the most important days on the Estonian calendar and Estonians everywhere will be enjoying themselves tonight!

Happy Jaanipäev everyone!

Saturday, 20 June 2020

Where to find War of Independence monuments in Estonia

In honour of Victory Day (Võidupüha) that is celebrated in Estonia on June 23, the Land Board has released a comphrensive list of where to find war monuments. The online portal is easy to use and allows you to zoom in to street view. The map of monuments can be accessed here.

Victory Day marks the decisive battle during the Estonian War of Independence that saw the defeat of German forces in 1919 who sought to re-assert control over the region. Victory Day is a public holiday in Estonia featuring a military parade rotating to different parts of the country each year.

Monday, 15 June 2020

Tallinn is open and awaits you!

Countries in Europe are slowly opening their borders and allowing visitors to enter but we still need to be vigilant regarding the coronavirus. The pandemic is not over yet. Estonia now permits many foreign nationals to enter the country without the need for quarantine. Now is a good time to start thinking about you next trip to Estonia! I sure am!

Sunday, 14 June 2020

‪Today Estonia mourns the victims of the June 1941 mass deportations

On 14 June 1941 the Soviet Union forcibly deported over 10,000 people from Estonia to Siberia. Today we mourn the victims of this horrendous crime. We will never forget.

Monday, 8 June 2020

Johann Anton Beckert: Estonia's first chocolate maker?

One of the joys of researching family history is unearthing long forgotten facts that have either personal or historical significance. This is the case with my fifth great-grandfather Johann Anton Beckert who was a chocolate maker from Bohemia. It is not known when Johann left Czech lands and settled in Estonia but he married his Estonian wife Margaretha Schumann in the Church of the Holy Ghost in Tallinn in 1784. 

Johann and Margaretha Beckert had three sons who were all born in Tallinn. Johann Nicolaus Beckert was born in 1784, followed by Paul Peter Beckert in 1786 and Johann Gottfried Beckert in 1789. On the boys' birth registrations their father's occupation was listed as 'chocolate fabricant' / chocolate maker. If this is true, as the records suggest, then Johann Beckert would have been making chocolate in Tallinn 24 years earlier than Lorenz Caviezel, the man who is credited as being the first chocolate maker in Estonia.

Church record from 1786.

A brief history of chocolate in Estonia.
History books have recorded confectioner Lorenz Caviezel as being the first chocolate maker in Estonia. Caviezel was originally from Riga and opened his confectionery shop in 1806 at Langstrasse 16 in Tallinn (now known as Pikk Tänav 16) where Café Maiasmokk stands today. Caviezel moved back to Riga in 1835 and in 1864 the business was taken over by Georg Johann Stude who founded the Maiasmokk café. Today Kalev, the largest confectionery manufacturer in Estonia, owns the property where it keeps the tradition of chocolate making alive.

Unfortunately, I have been unable to locate further records about Johann Beckert and his chocolate making in Tallinn. Sadly he died young and unexpectly in April 1789 from typhoid fever. He had lost his wife and son Paul the previous month from the same illness. His two remaining sons grew up orphans. It is a tragic end to the man who might have given the residents of Tallinn their first taste of chocolate. I think I know who I got my sweet tooth from!

Monday, 1 June 2020

How Did the Russian Nobility Relax in Estonia?

Aurika Meimre, senior research fellow and associate professor of Russian Culture at the School of Humanities at Tallinn University explains how Tallinn '(formerly Reval) was popular among the Russian nobility in the 19th century. Tallinn, or more specifically Kadriorg, was often visited by Russian blue-bloods and used as a summer residence, a place where they came to rest and heal.

Thursday, 28 May 2020

'Back to Our Roots' exchange application now open

If you are aged 18- 30 years, living abroad and come from an Estonian backgorund then the 'Back to Our Roots' exchange programme might be of interest to you. There are two opportunities to take part this year, the first commences in September and the second in November. Applications are now open.

More information can be found here: Back to Our Roots

Sunday, 24 May 2020

VIDEO: Kuressaare Castle

Kuressaare Castle reopened last week after being closed for over two months due to the coronavirus.  Safety measures remain in place in which people must keep a two metre distance and tour groups must not exceed ten people. Kuressaare Castle is one of the most popular tourist sites on the island of Saaremaa. It was founded in the 14th Century by the Teutonic Order.

More information can be found here: Kuressaare Episcopal Castle

Friday, 22 May 2020

Estonians love their mittens

Knitting is a cornerstone of Estonian folk culture. Gloves and mittens are made in Estonia using century old techniques with traditional motifs. Every pattern has its own unique meaning and history. These videos by Nordic Knitters explains more.

Monday, 18 May 2020

The coronavirus emergency situation has ended in Estonia

Lockdown measures have been lifted in Estonia. I saw this caption online today and had to smile. Clichés often reflect the truth. Estonians are indeed more reserved than other nationalities. 

Estonia celebrated the end of emergency situation with a digital choir concert. You can learn more about it here: Vaata uuesti: Ivo Linna ja digitaalse koori kontsert Tallinna lauluväljakul

Sunday, 17 May 2020

Eurovision: Ten of Estonia's best entries

The 2020 Eurovision Song Contest would have taken place this week but understandably it was cancelled due to the coronavirus. Instead, a two hour special 'Eurovision: Europe Shine A Light' was broadcast live to televisions around the world. Next year the event will be held in Rotterdam in the Netherlands. Over the years Estonia has performed many great songs at Eurovision. Let's take a look at some of them. Estonia won the competition in 2001.

Wednesday, 13 May 2020

Estonia's population on the rise

Based on the data released by Statistics Estonia, in January 2020 the population of Estonia was 1,328,976 which is 4,156 people more than the previous year. In 2019 there were 14,099 births in Estonia and 15,401 deaths. Net migration has been positive for Estonia.

More information can be found here: Immigration helped to increase the population figure

Monday, 11 May 2020

Wooden Estonian Handicrafts

If you have ever been in search of wooden products made in Estonia, then the company E.Strauss might be of interest to you. Located in Avinurme in Jõgeva County, the company has been operating since 1994 and produces a large range of goods. They manufacture everything from baskets to boxes, furniture, lights, sauna products, toys and more. E Strauss also accepts special requests if you require a more customised or personalised gift.

Some of the lovely products made by E Strauss.

it's not just the woodwork that is impressive but the artwork too.

More information can be found on their website here: www.strauss.ee

Sunday, 10 May 2020

Head Emadepäeva!

Happy Mother's Day everyone! I hope you all have a wonderful day creating new memories. Sadly I lost my mother last year and this is my first Mother's Day without her. This morning I put together a new collection of her photos and hung it up on the wall. She is always near me. Miss you Mum!

If you are interesting in reading some Mother's Day poems, I found these on Elu Life.
Emadepäeva luuletused ja salmid, õnnitlused emale emadepäevaks

Saturday, 9 May 2020

Farewell Ell Tabur ‎

The Estonian community in New York lost a beloved member recently. Estonian folk singer Ell Tabur passed away in New York on the 30th April 2020.

Tabur was born in Tallinn on 29th June 1943. In 1944 she fled Soviet occupied Estonia with her parents and took refuge in Germany before emigrating to the United States in 1949.

Between 1965–1976 Ell Tabur recorded three solo records sung in the Estonian language. She collaborated creatively with the Estonian poet Jyri Korgi.

Later in life, Tabur was the General Manager of the Estonian House in New York.

Her recipe for sweet and sour cabbage was published in the 2015 cookbook ' 'Estonian Tastes and Traditions.'

Friday, 8 May 2020

Today marks the 75th anniversary of the end of World War Two

As Europe commemorates 75 years since the end of World War Two, we must remember that the war did not officially end in Estonia until 1994 when the last occupying Soviet (by then Russian) soldier left the country. The Nazi regime was defeated on May 8 1945 but for citizens of the Baltic States and Eastern Europe, their countries were still occupied by the Soviet Union and would remain so for the next fifty years.

Yesterday the Estonian president Kersti Kaljulaid reminded us that "the Baltics and Eastern Europe had “a different history” to the West, which now needs a common “European consciousness,”

Both the Nazi and Soviet regimes were evil and caused death and destruction wherever they went, but for the Estonian people, the Soviets were the worst of the two evils. They caused the most devastation for the Estonian people. Many brave men continued to fight for Estonia after 1945, the Forest Brothers were heroes who were active until 1956 but they were too outnumbered. The Red Army hunted them down and killed them. Thousands of people deemed a threat to Soviet rule were deported to remote parts of Russia.

Estonia endured and suffered much under the Soviet Union and thankfully that all came to an end in 1991 when Estonia's independence was restored. Estonia has since rebuilt itself into a dynamic, modern and innovative country.

Wednesday, 6 May 2020

Who are Estonia's top chess players?

During this period of lockdown due to the coronavirus, I have been playing a lot more chess than I usually do. Playing online with Chess.com is a great way to test your skills against players from all over the world.  Blitz games are my favourite as I like to think fast!

Chess enjoys a certain prestige in Estonia compared to many other countries. Most Estonians know their way around a chessboard and chess is played by people from all walks of life. Supermodel Carmen Kass was president of the Estonian Chess Federation for seven years from 2004 to 2011. Chess competitions have taken place in Tallinn since 1903 but they weren't considered official until 1923. 

The greatest Estonian chess player of all-time was of course Paul Keres whose image even appeared on the Estonian 5 kroon banknote. But who is Estonia's top player today? 44-year-old Kaido Kulaots is currently ranked No.1 in Estonia for winning the most competitions. Grandmaster Ottomar Ladva is ranked second. At 15 he was the youngest player to win the Estonian Chess Championship. Now aged twenty-two he has won four - 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2018. 

The winner of the 2019 Estonian Chess championship is Aleksandr Volodin. His FIDE rating is 2497, placing him third overall in Estonia behind Kulaots (2524) and Ladva (2513).

Aleksandr Volodin. Winner of the 2019 Estonian Chess Chmapionship.

Friday, 1 May 2020

Estonian comedy with English subtitles

Tonight I was in need of a laugh and so went online in search of some light entertainment. The Estonian comedy duo Ott Sepa and Märt Avandi have produced many funny sketches over the years and thankfully several of their videos include English subtitles. The two videos below are a bit dark in nature yet amusing.

Thursday, 30 April 2020

Jõgeva furniture factory now produces face masks

With the coronavirus continuing to spread throughout the world, the demand for face masks is on the rise. Some countries like Germany have made it compulsory to wear face masks in public when visiting shops or travelling on public transport and the penalty for flauting the rules is a 150€ on the spot fine. There is growing frustration among consumers who attempt to buy masks only to discover they are sold out. An Estonian furniture company called Softcom is attempting to solve that problem by producing masks of their own. The company has invested in machinery from China and has the capacity to produce four million masks per month. This is great news for Estonian residents who no longer have to rely on foreign imports.

You can learn more about Softcom's mask production via their recent interview with ERR News.

Monday, 27 April 2020

Konrad Mägi documentary by Marianne Kõrver

Konrad Mägi was one of the first modernist painters in Estonia and often considered to be the most important painter in the history of Estonian art. His paintings of landscapes and portraits are highly accliamed for their sensitive use of colour. Interest in Konrad Mägi work has grown in Europe since the end of the 2010s where his works have been on display in Rome, Paris and most recently in Torino.

This documentary film by Marianne Kõrver, was made for the Konrad Mägi exhibition "The Light of the North" that was held in Torino Musei Reali from 2019-2020. 

Tuesday, 21 April 2020

Preserve your precious family photos

As we are all in lockdown due to the coronavirus, now is a good time to go through your old family photos and make sure they are in good order. The Photo Museum in Tallinn recently made a video showing different ways to preserve your precious family photos. They are absolutely worth preserving for the future generations.

One thing I would place great importance on in preserving photographs is to label them. On the back write the names of the people present in the photo and the location. Very often we have no idea who some of the people in our family photos are so it is best to provide as much information as possible for the generations to come.

Here is a photo of my great-grandparents (right) with my great-grandmother's family.

My great-grandparents (centre and right)

My great-grandfather with my great-grandmother, his brother (Hans Lesthal), 
sister-in-law (Annette Lesthal) and nephew (Ralf Lesthal).

My great-grandmother's cousins who worked for the Red Cross during World War One.

My grandfather Alexander with cousins from his mother's family.
Sadly I don't know any of their names.

Member's of my great-grandmother's family. 
I know few of these peoples' names.
That's why you need to write on the back of photos!

Saturday, 18 April 2020

University of Tartu scientists develop coronavirus antibody detection test

Great news! Scientists from the Institute of Biomedicine and Translational Medicine at the University of Tartu have developed a test to determine whether someone had been infected with the coronavirus and developed immunity to it. The antibody tests will be available soon.

To read the full article, please click here;
University of Tartu scientists develop COVID-19 antibody detection test

Thursday, 16 April 2020

Lennart Meri documentary: Dances for The Milky Way

Lennart Meri was a much-loved Estonian president who held office from 1992 to 2001. Prior to this he was a talented writer, filmmaker, translator and historian. 'Dances for the Milky Way' is a documentary by director Jaak Lõhmus that takes a look into the life of this great Estonian.

Wednesday, 15 April 2020

Coronavirus: Life on Estonia's 'corona island'

Estonians living on the island of Saaremaa became infected with the coronavirus after a volleyball team from Milan came to play a match. The BBC recently visited Saaremaa to make the following report.

Tuesday, 14 April 2020


Here's a cleverly written and performed piece of music by Duo Ruut. 'Tuule Sõnad' means Words of the Wind.

Sunday, 12 April 2020

Häid Munadepühasid! Happy Easter!

There are several ways to say 'Happy Easter' in Estonian.

The most formal name for Easter is 'Ülestõusmispüha' the term literally translates as 'Resurrection holiday'. Then there is the less formal 'Lihavõtted' that means 'meat taking' referring to the end of lent when you can eat meat again. My preferred way to say Easter is 'Munadepühasid' as it relates to eggs and means 'egg holiday'. There are several ways you can wish someone a happy Easter using this term - 'Häid Munadepühasid', Ilusaid Munadepühasid or Rõõmsaid Munadepühasid. 

So however you wish to say it, I wish you all a happy, joyful and beautiful Easter!

Saturday, 11 April 2020

Five things Estonians like to do at Easter

Now that Easter has officially begun let's take a look at how Estonians celebrate it. Estonia is no longer a religious country like it was prior to World War Two but it does observe ancient pagan traditions such as Easter. 

Here are five things Estonians like to do at Easter.

1. Paint eggs, decorate eggs, and eat eggs. Estonians like to make marbled eggs coloured by boiling them in onion skins.

2. Cook delicious desserts such as Pasha or kringle.

3. Send an Easter greeting card.

4. Play games. The two most popular Easter games in Estonia is the egg knocking game or rolling coloured eggs down an incline/ramp. If you manage to touch one of the other eggs. You win.

5. Some Estonians might go to church but for the majority prefer a nice family lunch with colourful table decorations.

Friday, 10 April 2020

Happy birthday Mama

Today is my mother's birthday. She would have turned seventy-one had she not passed away unexpectedly last August. My heart is still heavy at her loss but at least she appears in my dreams from time to time and this comforts me. This morning I lit candles in her memory. Puhka rahus.

Monday, 6 April 2020

Ensuring the survival of the Estonian people is more important than the economy

Former Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves was recently interviewed on the Hommik Anuga program and reiterated what every Estonian instinctively knows - 'Ensuring the survival of the Estonian people takes precedence over the economy.' 

To read more about the interview, please click on the below link.
Ilves: Ensuring survival of the Estonian people more important than economy

Video: 'Käpapuu' by Puuluup

For a bit of light entertainment, here is a new release by Estonian band Puuluup. Puuluup is a duo consisting of Ramo Teder and Marko Veisson. Their music is based on tradition and folklore and revives the talharpas, a traditional instrument strung with horsehair. 

Thursday, 2 April 2020

How to make your own face masks to protect yourself against the coronavirus

With the continuing spread of the coronavirus, many people are finding it difficult to find face masks in pharmacies and shops. An alternative is to make your own. The Estonian Consumer Protection and Technical Regulatory Authority recommends that we all wear face masks in public. Today they released simple instructions how to make your own face mask. The text is in Estonian with photos enabling all to understand.

Monday, 30 March 2020

8 ways to lift your spirits during the coronavirus pandemic

As the world winds down and goes into survival mode to combat the coronavirus it's easy to feel occasionally despondent with all the bad news we hear every day. Stockmakets have crashed, people have lost their jobs, the majority of shops have closed and the number of infections keeps rising. For humankind the coronavirus pandemic is a catastrophic event but for nature it has been a reprieve. With the halt of human activity, air pollution is at its lowest level in years, fish and dolphins can now be seen swimming in the clear canals of Venice and we are learning how fragile our existence is. Social distancing and self isolation are crucial at this time but do have some benefits. We are spending more time at home with our families and sleeping in a little longer each day as we don't have to get up early to communte to work.

As the coronavirus continues to spread throughout the world we must be vigilant and do our best to protect ourselves and others. We are living in unprecedented times that require unprecedented measures. If the situation makes you feel overwelmed at times, or you feel bored at home, try shifting your focus onto something a little more pleasant to evoke a smile..

Here are eight ways to lift your spirits:

1. Indulge in your passion for music
Italy has been in lockdown for several weeks now and many Italians have shared on social media what they have been doing at home to pass the time. Some have sung from their balconies in solidarity whilst other play their instruments with pride. Itis s a joy for all to hear.

Mirko and Valerio play the violin while in quarantine in Italy.

2. Take a sauna
Estonians know the healing benefits of the sauna. It’s been an integral part of Estonian culture for centuries. Saunas not only make your skin feel great but are also good for respiratory and immune function and joint pain. You always feel cleansed after a good sauna session.

3. Make a conference call
If you feel a bit cut off from friends and family during this period of isolation, why don't you give them a call via video? Zoom and Google Meet can connect you with up to 20 people on one video call. It's a great way to stay in touch!

4. Go online and discover something new
The world is full of fascinating places yet we are often aware of only a fraction of them. An interesting place I recently read about is Shell Grotto in Margate, England The secret underground chamber with passageways was discovered in the 1800s but nobody knows who built it or when it was built. The underground lair was made with over 4.6 million shells.

5. Be creative!
Now that you are at home with extra time on your hands, it's a great opportunity to do that craft project you've been meaning to do. Whether its some form of art project, sewing, building or cooking. Just do it, no more delays!

6. Visit a museum - online via a virtual tour
One of the great things about our modern era is that so many things are accessible online. Why don't you choose a museum and explore!

7. Fill your home with postive vibes
People have been cooking a lot more since they have been in self-isolation and sharing photos of their culinary feats on social media. Cooking can be a real pleasure when beautiful aromas fill the air and accompanied by a glass of wine and music. Another thing that stimulates the senses is the use of candles. Light a few candles in your living room and kitchen and it is sure to make you feel good.

8. Watch cute koala videos
With all the gloom and doom we read in the media these days, take a break and read about something a bit more pleasant like how the koalas have been faring after the recent Australian bushfires. Many koalas have recovered from their burns and injuries and been released back into the wild. No matter what mood I'm in, good or bad, a cute koala picture makes me smile every time!

Thursday, 26 March 2020

Video: Quiet Streets in Tallinn - March 2020

There is a certain beauty in the city without the crowds. The video was produced by Priidu Saart in Tallinn last Sunday.

First coronavirus death reported in Estonia

Yesterday Tallinn Central Hospital reported the first coronavirus death. An 83-year-old woman from Hiiumaa succumbed to the virus after being hospitalised on March 20. She had a pre-existing medical condition. The Estonian Health Board has stated that the number of people infected with the coronaavirus in Estonia is now 538.


Monday, 23 March 2020

Saaremaa and Harju counties worst hit by the coronavirus

As of today there are currently 352 cases of the coronavirus in Estonia. Of those, 15 people have been hospitalised and 4 are in intensive care. The death toll remains at zero. 17 percent of the people confirmed to have the virus are aged over 60.

Estonia has created a state-approved automated chatbot called 'Suve' that provides trustworthy information during the coronavirus pandemic. You can find out more here: Suve

How Estonia compares to the worst affected countries.

Be safe everyone, stay at home and protect yourselves. If you have a sauna at home now is a good time to use it regularly.

Thursday, 19 March 2020

New milestone: 500,000 pageviews!

Estonia: Paradise of the North reached a new milestone over the weekend - 500,000 pageviews! Thank you so much to everyone who regularly reads this blog. I really appreciate it when you take the time to get in touch with feedback. I've received so many lovely emails over the years from all corners of the world. Thank you so much! 

Monday, 16 March 2020

Coronavirus: Stay home, stay safe

It's truly shocking the degree to which the coronavirus has spread throughout the world. Schools have been closed, public events cancelled and supermarket shelves stripped bare. I've never seen anything quite like it before. Estonia has now temporarily closed its border to foreigners in an attempt to stop the spread of the virus. So far no-one has died of the coronavirus in Estonia but it's far from over. Let's hope social distancing  will impede the spread.

Friday, 13 March 2020

Estonian government declares state of emergency

In a bid to contain the spread of the coronavirus, the Estonian government declared a state of emergency today that will stay in effect until 1 May 2020.  Estonia’s borders will remain open with certain measures in place. There are currently 79 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Estonia.

Shoppers were surprised to find empty shelves in Tallinn today. Supermarkets haven't looked like that since 1992.

Thursday, 12 March 2020

Estonia has a new movie streaming service - Netikino

You can now watch the best in Estonian cinema with the new streaming service called Netikino. The site offer films in six categories; Documentary, Animation, Drama, Family, Comedy and Concert. 

You can view the films here: www.netikino.ee

Tuesday, 10 March 2020

Ways to protect yourself against the Coronavirus

With two new cases of the Coronavirus confirmed in Tallinn today, no doubt the fear of contracting the virus is in the back of everyone's mind. The total number of infected people in Estonia currently stands at 12 and health experts expect that figure to rise.

The Coronavirus emerged from China in December last year and has since spread to over 114 countries. The virus is highly contagious and has crossed borders at an alarming rate, over 116,000 people worldwide are confirmed to have the virus and 4085 people have died from it. The countries with the highest infection rates are China, Italy, Iran, South Korea and France. Last weekend Germany's number of infections doubled from 670 on Friday to 1260 on Sunday night.

The Coronavirus is similar to the flu in nature and is potentially deadly for people with weak immune systems, namely the elderly (those aged over 65) and smokers. So far there have been no recorded deaths of children aged under ten.

With the fear of infection looming over our heads there have been some shocking developments during the past week. We have seen panic shopping, supermarket brawls over toilet paper and the complete lockdown of parts of Italy in order to contain the spread. Governments and health officials around the world have taken measures to combat the virus but on a personal level, what can we do? What is the best way to protect ourselves? The Estonian government has published this information sheet with some practical advice but there are a few things I would add.

We are most at risk of contracting the virus when we are in crowded areas. Commuting to work on a crammed bus or train or being confined on an aeroplane is the likely place to contract the virus. Wearing a mask and gloves is one way of protecting yourself in addition to washing your hands regularly, but there is something else you should do that is equally important - bolster your immune system. By strengthening your immune system with a high intake of vitamin C you have the best chance of fighting the virus or not contracting it at all.

My tips: Wash hands regularly and thoroughly.  Always carry a supply of tissues with you to cover a cough or sneeze. Boost your immune system with regular doses of vitamin C, the body absorbs it fairly quickly so you need to top it up every three hours. I prefer to eat blueberries, strawberries and raspberries and sometimes use powder form (ascorbic acid) too.  I also eat a chunk of fresh ginger every morning and night. Drink plenty of water and sleep at least 7-8 hours every night. Limit alcohol and refined sugars and this should keep you healthy. 

Updates about the Coronavirus can be found here: COVID-19 CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK

Estonia has the lowest infant mortality rate in the EU

Infant mortality has halved during the past ten years. In 2018, the highest infant mortality rates in the European Union were registered in Romania (6.0 deaths per 1 000 live births), Bulgaria (5.8 deaths) and Malta (5.6 deaths), and the lowest in Estonia (1.6 deaths).

In the EU in 2018, around 14 600 children died before reaching one year of age. This is equivalent to an infant mortality rate of 3.4 deaths per 1 000 live births. 

During the 10 years from 2008 to 2018, the infant mortality rate in the EU fell from 4.2 deaths per 1 000 live births to 3.4 deaths per 1 000 live births.

This is great news for Estonia. Something the country can feel proud of!

Tuesday, 3 March 2020

Tallinn bookstore named one of the best in the world

The Rahva Raamat bookstore located on the corner of Pärnu Highway and Suur-Karja Street in Tallinn has been named among the top three bookstores in the world by the London Book Fair. The bookstore has been operating for more than a century and recently underwent a major overhaul. ERR News writes about its history here

Sunday, 1 March 2020

Uku Suviste to represent Estonia at Eurovision

Last night Estonian singer-songwriter Uku Suviste won Eesti Laul. He will now go on to represent Estonia at the Eurovision Song Contest that will be held in the Netherlands in May.

Monday, 24 February 2020

Happy Independence Day! Ilust iseseisvumispäeva!

Today we celebrate the 102nd birthday of our beautiful Estonian republic. Happy Independence Day everyone! Ilust iseseisvumispäeva! Elagu Eesti! 

If you are interested in knowing how to play the Eesti Hymm (national anthem) on the piano, this video will help you learn!

Friday, 21 February 2020

Estonia's up-and-coming athlete: Karl Erik Nazarov

I was thrilled to read in the press this week that a new sporting record was achieved by my cousin's son Karl Erik Nazarov. At the Estonian Indoor Championships that were held in Tallinn, twenty-year old Karl set the Estonian record in the mens 60m sprint race at 6.68. The previous record holder for that event was set by Argo Golberg in 2003 at 6.71. For seventeen years no-one could beat that time, until now.

Karl is on fire this season. Earlier this month he set another record at the Martin Kutman Memorial Competition in Tartu. He set the new U23 class record in the 60m hurdles at 7.84, beating his uncle's record of 7.95. The previous best time was 7.93.

Karl and his uncle Andrei at an awards ceremony last year

Until last summer, Karl's coach was his uncle Andrei Nazarov,  a former decathlete who represented Estonia in several Olympic Games. Karl is strongly focused on his passion for sprinting and hurdles and, with the aid of his new coach Liivi Eerik, he is sure to achieve many more great things in the future. 

Wednesday, 19 February 2020

Jaan Kross: one of Estonia's most accomplished authors

Today marks the 100th anniversary of Estonian writer Jaan Kross’ birth. Kross is a grand figure in Estonian literature and the author of several seminal novels including Between Three Plagues and The Czar’s Madman. On several occasions, Jaan Kross was among the nominees of the Nobel Prize in Literature for his work.

Jaan Kross was born in Tallinn on 19th February 1920. He attended the Jakob Westholm Grammar School and later studied at the University of Tartu. During the German and Soviet occupations of Estonia, he was arrested several times on the grounds of being a nationalist. In 1947 The Soviets deported him to Northern Russia to work in mines and when he returned home in 1954 he became a writer.  Kross first wrote poetry before he started writing historic novels.

The 1978 novel The Czar's Madman is considered to be Kross' best work; it has been translated into several languages and received many awards.

In honour of Jaan Kross' 100th birthday Eesti Post has released a commemorative stamp.