The Chrismas Archives


Estonian Christmas

Estonia, means, literally 'my Country'. When the author first contacted the Estonian government for information about their Christmas, in 1983/4, the apologetic reply was that the country, under Soviet regime, did not have a Christmas. The most recent requests, to a school, showed that not only do they enjoy a Christmas, but have obviously done so, discreetly, for centuries, as their customs have not been lost. There are three main groups, the Catholic and Orthodox Christians, the Lutherans and the Atheists. Included here are three short accounts of Christmas as celebrated by each group.

Christmas by Olga Sotnik age almost 16

Christmas in my country is officially celebrated from 24th-25th December, but in my family we celebrate Christmas twice, in December and January, because my Father, me and my sister are members of Russian Orthodox Church, and my Mother and Granny belong to the Lutherans. One month before , me and my sister put sock on the window and every day the Elves bring us sweets, small toys and sometimes, books. Of course I know that all these things are put there by my parents, but sometimes it is good to believe in magic. On the 20th December we put up a Christmas Tree and decorate it. Then we decorate all the rooms. On Christmas Eve we put presents under the tree and after Christmas supper we open them. At supper it is traditional in Estonia to eat fried goose with apples, but in my family nobody likes it, thats why we make chicken in place of goose, and there are many other tasty things. Christmas is my favourite holiday because people begin to believe in magic and life turns into a magic fairytale.

Christmas by Dima Lushnikov age 16

I am an atheist myself, but I am celebrating Christmas because it is a very good idea. In Estonia two types of churches are popular, Orthodox and Lutheran, but Orthodox church celebrates Christmas at 7th January and of course I celebrate this Christmas too. It is a tradition in Estonian families to have a fir tree at Christmas, and it usually stays until Orthodox Christmas. The traditional Christmas food includes fried turkey , but there are some differences, for example there are traditional cookies called 'Pipparkogid (peppercorns with cocoa and cinnamon), and drinks are of course, Beer. Estonians like to have fireworks at Christmas.

Christmas by Nick Govenko age 16

Christmas is a religious holiday, but I am an atheist. Of course Christmas is a very good holiday: we have presents, play games such as 'The Bottle' (it is a very old Russian game when boys and girls sit around. One of them turns a bottle. The one to whom the bottle turns has to kiss the one who turned the bottle.) - and we eat Turkey. On Christmas Eve our town becomes an interesting fairy-tale. It is a time when our dreams come true. On Christmas Eve we have a Christmas Tree in our apartments. Christmas is a very happy holiday in our country. Last Christmas I had fireworks, but our neighbors were not as happy as we were! It was very noisy. I think the Christmas is a good holiday and it is interesting to celebrate it.

Christmas by Ana Laius

Christmas is the most cheerful and expected time of winter. Generally I do not like winter but Christmas-time is very special and exciting. People want to be good to each other, everybody is generous and kind. Maybe its because children believe in elves, but grown-ups believe in Someone that looks after them and wants them to be happy. Children believe in Santa Claus's Elves. Before Christmas they try to be good. They know that if they are good the elves will bring them sweets and fruits into their slippers which they put on the window sill in the evening. It is a lovely tradition, I remember when I was younger I truly believed in those little creatures and it was good to think about them.

During Christmas we eat traditional Estonian food: pork and Sauerkraut (pickled cabbage) with potatoes, blood pudding and meat jelly. There are also fruit and different kinds of sweets and cakes on the table. We make Gingersnaps. We grow sugarbeet (I live in the country) and my sisters make a syrup of it, so our family does not have to buy the readymade gingersnap dough, we make it ourselves.

Gingersnaps are of different shapes - gingerbread men and women, little stars and moons, birds, cats, dogs and bears. It is fun to make these. Before Christmas we bring a Christmas Tree into the house. My father and I go into the wood behind the house to find one. It's so lovely to walk in the white, snowy wood and look for the most beautiful tree. We put candles and decorations on the tree, and soon the whole house is filled with the scent of the candles and fir.

The most beautiful evening is the evening of the 24th. December. Usually we eat in our kitchen, but that evening we lay the table in the living room. We light candles and watch TV. The whole family is together and everyone is in a good mood. Before Christmas everybody has bought presents. If you want to get your presents you have to say a poem or sing a song. It makes real fun. My father usually wants me to sing a song instead of him. I like Christmas very much. The whole land is covered with white clean snow and it feels so cosy to be at home where there is candlelight, warmth and sweet gingersnaps. I wish everybody to feel the same way as I do at Christmas time.