An Estonian Christmas
Estonian Christmas is a mixture of traditional and modern, a combination of cultures and cuisines. The many occupations of Estonia have influenced celebrations here and each one has left a small piece.
Like in most of Northern Europe, Estonians celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve (24 December). In the folk calendar, Christmas began on St. Thomas’s Day (21 December) and lasted until Epiphany (6 January). The word jõulud (Christmas) comes from the word Jul, a word that has no connection to Christianity. Scandinavia and Estonia are the only areas in Europe where Christmas is still referred to by a pre-Christian word. The word näärid, of German origin, was also used to mark the holiday. What was the only official seasonal holiday during the Soviet period. Otherwise, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day were celebrated and Christmas was celebrated unofficially in the privacy of one’s home.
Modern day Christmas time in Estonia is magical. The huge tree in the middle of the square is the centerpiece for the annual market. Smells of black pudding, sauerkraut, and mulled wine fill the Old Town. Traditional Estonian Christmas food includes pork with sauerkraut and blood sausage. There are many opportunities to try traditional Estonian Christmas food while visiting this December. Many restaurants have special Christmas menus on offer. And no visit to Estonia in winter is complete without a mug of glögg or mulled wine.
Kristina Lupp, Editor-in-chief