Fresh news about Estonia

„The Best Guide for visiting Estonia“
Book your hotel here
Entry date:
Departure Date:
Rooms
Browse our paper on-lineOr download the PDF

Old and new traditions


04. December 2012

Old and new traditions

Estonian folk Kristina Lupp Editor-in chief Soviet Period New Year’s Eve

The holidays are truly a magical time in Estonia. This season gives you a glimpse into the old peasant traditions associated with this time of year. According to the Estonian folk calendar, the Christmas season begins on December 21, with St. Thomas Day, and ends on January 6, The Epiphany. The Christmas season was traditionally celebrated from December 25-27, and the most important celebration was Christmas Eve, December 24. This still continues today.

The word Jõulud, meaning Christmas in Estonian, comes from the old Scandinavian word Jul. The association of Christmas with Jesus Christ is relatively recent. Christmas marked the Winter Solstice, the shortest day and the longest night. It reflected the customs and traditions of the peasants, where certain tasks had to be performed during this period, and other tasks were banned. For example, milling, spinning, and quilling were banned, as it was thought that they were too noisy and would disturb the “good spirits.”

Pigs were slaughtered and homemade ale and mead were brewed. The pork was served as a roast with sauerkraut. Blood sausages and sült (headcheese) were prepared, and bread was made. These culinary traditions still continue today. Christmas straw would be brought into the house, and Christmas crowns made.

The Christmas tree is also a recent tradition, introduced by the Baltic German nobility in the middle of the 19th century. The manor house lords would throw Christmas parties for the servants and their families. The tree would be decorated with toys, candies, and candles.

During the Soviet Period, Christmas was banned. New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day were the only official holidays during this period. However, Christmas continued to be celebrated unofficially with family meals in the home on Christmas Eve, and the lighting of candles on the graves of family members. At the end of the Soviet period, Christmas trees began to appear in homes once again.

On December 24, the President of Estonia declares peace, a 350-year-old tradition that still continues today.

Happy Holidays!

Kristina Lupp

Editor-in chief

Estonian Christmas and a tradition that dates back 350 years

Estonian Christmas and a tradition that dates back 350 years

Christmas is one of the most important holidays in Estonia. It is a mixture of traditional and modern, of religious and […]

05. December 2014

Modern traditions

Modern traditions

According to the Estonian folk calendar, November marks the arrival of the phenological winter. November brought with it the start of […]

30. October 2014

Mushrooms and Markets

Mushrooms and Markets

Last month my Facebook newsfeed was filled with news reports about Russia, and photos of mushrooms. This year was one of […]

15. October 2014

The Changing of the Seasons

The Changing of the Seasons

What a summer it has been! The weather seemed doubtful a few months back, when it snowed one day in June. […]

29. August 2014

Singing & Dancing & Summer

Singing & Dancing & Summer

The 26th Estonian Song Festival and the 19th Dance Celebration took place from 4-6 July and drew the highest number of […]

05. August 2014

Summer in the city

Summer in the city

July is a wonderful time to visit both Tallinn and Estonia. Summertime is in full swing, meaning lots of events […]

27. June 2014

At long last, patio season!

At long last, patio season!

We can’t really complain that we’ve had a long and hard winter here in Estonia this year, at least not […]

07. May 2014

Spring is in the air!

Spring is in the air!

With spring comes change, the need for spring-cleaning, or a new look perhaps. As the days get longer and the […]

28. February 2014