Friday, 30 September 2022

Estonians living abroad maintain strong bonds with Estonia

A study commissioned by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and conducted by the Institute of Baltic Studies (IBS) found that Estonians throughout the world are not a community disjoined from Estonian society; rather, they maintain strong emotional and cultural bonds with Estonia. 

The majority of the expat Estonian community has a multicultural identity — that is, a symbiosis of several identities or affiliations. Most Estonians abroad are content with their life in their new country and have adapted to life there, however their sense of belonging to Estonia has nonetheless remained strong as well.

More than half of study respondents celebrate Estonian holidays and vote in Estonian elections. A large share of families with children indicated they want to pass the Estonian language, culture and customs on to their children, and a majority want to keep their Estonian citizenship.

Wednesday, 28 September 2022

Time magazine includes Estonia’s Kaja Kallas in its Time100 Next list

Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas has been named one of the world's rising stars in its 2022 Time100 Next list. The list recognises people from different sectors from around the world for their extraordinary efforts to shape our world and define our future. Kallas has proven herself to be a strong and resilient leader.

Further reading can be found here

Tuesday, 27 September 2022

Estonia submits basketball film 'KALEV' for the upcoming Academy Awards

A sports drama inspired by real events, Kalev follows the story of the Estonian basketball team who won the last championship before the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Sunday, 25 September 2022

'Meie Tartu' - documentary celebrating 50 years of Tartu college in Canada

"Meie Tartu / Our Tartu" is a feature length documentary directed by Kaisa Pitsi and shows the history and future of Toronto's Tartu College. You can watch the trailer below.

Thursday, 22 September 2022

'Boat of Tears' exhibition - remembering those who fled Estonia in 1944

In September 1944, over 75 000 people fled Estonia to escape the advancing Red Army. Many left on small boats and never saw their homland again. People sought refuge in nearby Finland, Sweden and in Germany. To commemorate the event, a balloon-filled boat, the Boat of Tears, has been installed on Tallinn's Freedom Square.

The journeys made in 1944 were treacherous. Those who attempted the journey faced rough seas and often experienced engine failure. Most of the boats were dangerously overcrowded and those aboard put their lives at risk to escape. For many, staying behind would have been just as dangerous. It is not known how many people died attempting to flee.

More information about this event can be found here - Estonian Institute of Human Rights.

Wednesday, 21 September 2022

A letter from Ukraine

One hobby I have enjoyed doing in recent years is Postcrossing. I like to send and receive postcards from all over the world and often in awe of some of the beautiful postal designs that drop into my mailbox. I love beautiful postage stamps, often commemorating special events, what a fun job it would be to design them!

A few weeks ago I received an expected surprise in my mailbox - a letter and postcards from Ukraine! Understandably, I have not received any postcards from Ukraine since the war began in February so I was delighted it arrived. The sender was a man named Oleksandr, a writer and blogger who is not so dissimilar from myself. I found his letter quite interesting. For the past ten years Oleks has been living abroad but on February 23, he returned home to visit his family, only to be awoken the next morning by the sound of bombs. His wife and young daughter managed to flee to safety but he had to remain in Ukraine. He shared his pain of being separated from his family and not being there when his little girl started school for the first day. In his letter Oleks also told me his fondness for Estonia, he has been there many times and has also visited the Estonian disapora in Russia and has written about them. 

I was very happy to receive this letter from Oleksandr, it really made my day!

Monday, 19 September 2022

Tallinn's Wandering Lights Festival / Valgus Kõnnib

Last week thousands of lights were lit up and created dazzling displays to marks the end of summer. The Wandering Lights Festival is an annual event that is traditionally held at Kadriorg Park but has since expanded to Männi Park, Pae Park and Tallinn's Old Town so that more people can experience the positive emotions the lights bring. Each year the festival has a theme, this year it was 'Stories of the Night'.

Wednesday, 14 September 2022

A look at Palmse Manor

There are over 1000 manor houses in Estonia dating back as far as the 13th century when they were once home to Baltic Germans and Russian nobility. When Estonia declared independence in 1918, all manor houses became nationalised but many fell into ruin after World War Two. In 1971 the Lahemaa National Park was founded and shortly afterwards the restoration of manor houses began. Palmse Manor was the first manor in Estonia to be restored, the work began in 1975 and was completed in 1985. Today Palmse Manor is considered one of the most beautiful manors in Estonia.

Palmse Mõis is located at Palmse küla, Lääne-Virumaa, Estonia

There are 19 buildings on the estate visitors can view including the grand manor house, orangery, smithy (mint your own coin), distillery, malt barn and coach house. Visitors can also take a carriage ride, walk in the gardens or stay overnight in the stewards house. Palmse manor currently belongs to the Foundation Museums of Virumaa and is open every day from 10am.

Monday, 12 September 2022

A visit to the Estonian Embassy in Vienna

Last week I had to make an unexpected trip to an Estonian Embassy to complete some consular matters that unfortunately I couldn't do online. As there is no Estonian Embassy in the city where I live, I had to find the nearest embassy to my home and that was Vienna, a four hour drive away. The Estonian Embassy in Vienna is only open to the public two hours a day (10am-12pm) so I had to stay overnight for my 10am appointment the next day. I didn't mind too much, Vienna is a lovely city, famous for its coffee houses and one of the most famous is Cafe Central - it's so popular that the queue runs out the door!

I'm always curious to know what the different Estonian embassies around the world look like. I've only been to a few but they are very often in stylish old buildings. This was the case in Vienna. One thing I particularly liked about the building was the old fashioned lift with its wooden interior and bench seat. You rarely come across lifts like that these days. The staff member I met with was nice, helpful and thorough. It was a pleasant experience.

'The Estonian Embassy is located at:
Wohllebengasse 9/12, 1040 Vienna, Austria 

Some reading material I took home with me. It's always good to learn something new about Estonia!

Friday, 9 September 2022

My summer holiday in France and England

This year I decided not to spend my summer holiday in Estonia, instead I travelled to France and England to explore a few new places. In Northern France I visited Verdun, Villers-Bretonneux and Amiens; historic places from World War One that I remember learning about at school. I paid my respects at the Australian National Memorial, the site where over 10,000 Australian soldiers are either buried or commemorated. Sadly so many young men lost their lives in this area during WWI.

Next I caught the ferry over to England and visited Oxford, Bournmouth, Salisbury and the Cadbury's World of Chocolate museum in Birmingham. One of the highlights of my holiday was the trip to Highclere Castle, the filming location of the hit TV show Downton Abbey. Over the years I have really enjoyed watching this series and was sad when it ended. Highclere Castle has been open to the public for decades but its popularity has increased in recent years due to the success of the show. The summer season tickets were completely sold out when I looked online but luckily I was advised tickets are also available at the gate if you arrive early. So I did. Unfortunately photography was not permitted inside the building but I did have a good look around and took a stroll through the grounds afterwards. It was well worth the visit!

Highclere Castle in Hampshire, England

Yesterday I was deeply saddened to learn of the death of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. Growing up in Australia she was a fixture in our lives; her image was everywhere and her speeches always inspired and instilled confidence. The Queen dedicated her life to service and will be dearly missed. It is the end of an era. Puhka rahus.

Wednesday, 7 September 2022

How to make a patterned Estonian belt

The Estonian Folk Art and Craft Union have released a collection of short videos demonstrating traditional Estonian craft techniques. In this video you can see the method used to create a patterned belt. Fascinating!

More educational videos can be found here.

Friday, 2 September 2022

Tori's Military Memorial Church in Pärnu

The 31st of August is an important date in Estonian history. It marks the day in 1994 when the last Russian troops left Estonian soil. The army that had occupied, brutalised and polluted Estonia for half a century was finally gone. This event was an important milestone in strengthening Estonia's independence and moving forward to a secure and brighter future.


Tori's Military Memorial Church (formerly St. George's Lutheran Church) is the location where many historic anniversaries of Estonia are celebrated. On this day the chef of the Defence Union gives a speech and a service takes place followed by a musical performance. It is interesting to note that Tori's Military Memorial Church is also the location where Estonian policemen and officers are sworn into office.

Thursday, 1 September 2022

New school year begins in Estonia

The first of September marks the start of the new school year in Estonia. Students are about to embark upon a new chapter in their lives as they start or return to school. This year will see nearly 4,800 Ukrainian children starting school or kindergarten in Estonia. Many will attend the newly created Vabaduse School in Tallinn. In recent years Estonia's education system has been increasingly recognised as one of the best in the world.

Last year I was in Estonia on the first of September and noticed there were a lot of smart looking boys dressed in suits on their first day of school. Very cute!  

It is tradition in Estonia for children to receive an Aabits book on their first day of school. Here are a few cover designs from the past.