David’s baby steps towards becoming an Estonian
Estonia has a long tradition of holding public song festivals, which started during the national awakening at the end of the 19th century. The main song festival takes place every five years and there is one this summer. However, as the first song festival was held in Tartu in 1869, a mini song festival is organised here every year. The event takes place in the evening and people sing well into the night, hence its name.
The night song festival is a lot more light hearted and somewhat less patriotic than the main song festival. It is also a lot less powerful as the main attraction – a 30,000 singer choir – is missing.
We are planning to go to the main song festival in Tallinn this summer, so this was good practice. Especially for David, who is becoming quite a patriotic Estonian…at least by judging from his singing. Whether or not he understood all the things he sang about the Estonian fatherland and burning the German slave masters is another business.
These massive gatherings of people remain the biggest display of patriotism in Estonia. Our breaking free of the Soviet Union is called Singing Revolution, which was a series of song festivals where masses of people sang specially written protest songs about freedom. The revolution has gone down in history as one of the few non-violent ones. Here is a little YouTube clip to show you just one instance of the events back then:
Since we like to be legal, David now has an Estonian ID card, which gives him access to all of our famous online services, including voting, medicine prescriptions and information about all of David’s history with Estonia.
As we were walking back from the gym we saw a few women’s folk dance groups dancing outside the university building. I was sad to see how few spectators they got. The diversity of costumes and dances really is remarkable considering the size of Estonia.
Every country, village and town have their own colours, patterns, hats, shoes and jewellery. When people actually wore these outfits on special occasions they should have understood by looking at each other where they came from exactly.
All the dances and songs that go with them tell a story. The stories are often about finding a good husband or wife or about village life. My aim for the next week is to find one of these dance groups and join it.
War in Võru
We’ve been spending most of our weekends in Võru. We’ve had such nice weather that it seems a shame to stay in our flat while we could spend time in the Võru countryside having braais and spending time outside building shelves. Yes, we built two shelves. One of which is made from an old box used to buy chickens. Because everyone just has old chicken buying boxes lying around.
This was a military drill carried out in Võru every year. Military service is compulsory for all men in Estonia and lasts for 11 months. Võru has one of the big military bases/training schools where guys come from all across the country in order to become tough soldiers. So they hold a practice war event where they demonstrate what they have learned to the public. There were fake bombs, mines, smoke, blanks shot and military machinery took over the town.
Some elderly people who had actually gone through war stopped and looked extremely unhappy. This must bring back painful memories for them every year. I am not sure they feel reassured by this sort of exercise. Little kids, including myself, thoroughly enjoyed the show. I just consider myself lucky to be able to ‘watch war’ and then be able to go home safely.
The food corner
My grandma made sült and I thought I should tell you about it. Sült is a meat jelly made by boiling pig’s head and feet and adding some meat to it. The head and feet contain so much gelatinous substance that it becomes jelly. We put it in bowls to set and then eat it with very strong vinegar, which needs to be diluted with water or else it will burn your intestines. Sült is traditionally a wedding food, so when you tell a couple who is not married that you feel like some sült they should get the hint and get married.
I love sült, but David is not ready for it yet.
And finally, snow is predicted for Tuesday. Congratulations to us.