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5 September – Saint Zechariah’s Day
Saint Zechariah’s Day is one of major fair days in Räpina and Seto regions. This is all the information we have about it nowadays. So the only thing left to do is to find out what fairs are held in your closest neighbourhood on this day and start going. You do not necessarily have to buy anything; just enjoying the atmosphere can be fun too.

8 September – Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary
This day, called ‘Snake Mary’s Day’ in Estonian, was when snakes supposed to find places for winter sleep, which marks the autumn decline of the nature. In some places going to the forest on this day was forbidden because the nature needed rest.
The thing to remember nowadays is the following: cranberry picking season starts after ‘Snake Mary’s Day’. Cranberries and cranberry juice are very useful for people with kidney and bladder issues apart from the fact that they are unbelievably delicious.

14 September – ‘Vissenja’ (Seto language)
This is yet one more of the many Seto holidays.
Similarly to ‘Snake Mary’s Day’ it is supposed to mark the beginning of snakes’ winter dormancy. Bringing brushwood home from the woods was strictly forbidden because it could result in waking up snakes and attracting them to your yard. Instead of work people used to go to church and celebrate.
Why don’t you get at least some time off today even if it is just a longer lunch break?

21 September – Saint Matthias’ Day
Opposed to the one in February, the autumn Saint Matthias’ Day is relatively little known. As many other September holidays, it marks wild animals’ preparation for winter sleep: flies, mosquitos and snakes disappear.
Weather was also foretold on Saint Matthias’ Day. The common belief in Otepää region was that if it rained on this day, the autumn would be extremely rainy.
Let’s hope that the weather is dry today. It would de be good to accumulate yet some more energy from the sun for the winter ahead!

23 September – autumn equinox
People observed the nature very carefully on autumn equinox. This could help one guess what the weather would be. Wind direction was the most important: if it blew from the north, the autumn would be cold. Western wind promised a long and warm autumn. Wind direction was also believed to predict the spring draught of fish.
You too had better pay attention to see where tree branches lean. If you are not sure where the north and the south are, using a compass might be a good idea.

29 September – Michaelmas
Michaelmas was one of the major milestones of the year for Estonians in times past. It concluded the harvesting season. While farmhands came to farms on Saint George’s Day, their labour contracts ended on Michaelmas. To celebrate the day, lavish tables were laid, which absolutely had to include autumn produce, lamb dishes and beer. The largest fair of the year used to be held at Michaelmas too.
Starting from this day, nobody slept in lofts and storehouses: everyone moved back to the dwelling.
So it might be appropriate to pack you summer trekking gear up today, put sleeping bags and tents away for storage and focus on life indoors. Enjoying roast lamb and vegetables while listening to good old folk music seem like a decent start of the winter season, doesn’t it?

14 October – ‘Yellowing Day’
There is not much to say about ‘Yellowing Day’. What folklore mainly states about it is that tree leaves would have turned yellow by then.
Look out of the window or, better still, go for a walk in the park to see if that is true.

26 October – Saint Demetrius’ Day
Saint Demetrius Day, the day for honouring the memory of ancestors, has been mainly celebrated in the east of Estonia. It is known that the best food was cooked and the table was laid to welcome the souls returning home. Another tradition involved going to the cemetery to have a meal there. First people would wait quietly and let the dead eat and then start eating themselves.
On Saint Demetrius’ Day, you too could recall the relatives who passed away. If the tradition of eating at the cemetery is not your cup of tea, why not light a candle at home and think about the departed loved ones.

28 October – Saint Simon the Apostle’s Day
Saint Simon’s Day is best described by the old saying “Simon builds bridges over marshes”. It was believed that when ice bridges had been made, Saint Martin would use them to come.
This is about the time you started to practice skating. That probably cannot be done outside just yet, but there are ice halls for your convenience. Then you will be able to boast your skills upon a frozen lake in the middle of winter.

29 October – Saint Anastasia’s Day
Saint Anastasia’s Day is the holiday widely honoured in Seto region with the tradition of asking relatives to come over. The celebration would often last for three days. There is no information about any food specific for the feast, but vodka, which would help the songs that guests would sing to thank the host flow freely, certainly had to be on the table.
When did you last have relatives over or paid them a visit? You do not have to drink vodka, but having a chat would be nice anyway.

10 November – Martinmas Eve
Martinmas marks the souls’ visiting time and the end of outdoor farm works. This is when women started with indoor handicraft and men went to work in the forest. One of the most important traditions was going around as Martin’s beggars. Initially it was reserved for men, but women have been participating since the end of the 19th century. People used to disguise themselves as families of Martin’s beggars on Martinmas Eve and go from door to door singing, dancing, playing games and riddles, gathering treats and wishing luck.
Why don’t you gather a group of friends, put on fur coats inside out, smudge soot on your faces, attach beards made of tow and go bring people some Martinmas luck. Of course, first you will have to refer to the folk calendar and learn how to do it right: what to sing, how to dance and which games to play. To get your treats (in old days any food wold do, but today people rather expect candy and cookies), you will have to work!

25 November – Saint Catherine’s Eve
Beggar impersonation is very important on Saint Catherine’s Day in addition to Martinmas. While Martin’s beggars are black, furry and ugly, Catherine’s beggars are white and beautiful. These were women and girls, usually going as Catherine the Mother and her children, who embellished themselves with veils, stockings, false plaits of hair and other pretty little things. Catherine’s beggars brought luck for cattle, especially sheep, which is why they checked how good girls in the families were at handicraft. They also played riddles, sang and danced just like Martin’s beggars did. If a Catherine’s beggar ‘peed’ in the corner of the room (i.e. sprinkled water there), this was also believed to bring good luck.
Saint Catherine’s Day is a good reason to get together with your girlfriends and decorate yourselves in a slightly different fashion than usual: put a veil made of a curtain on your head and rouge your cheeks with beetroot. Young men can join in too, and disguising them as women is bound to be great fun!

30 November – Saint Andrew’s Day
Saint Andrew’s Day is another holiday for which impersonating beggars was traditional, but manly Andrew’s beggars were less common than similar Martin’s beggars. However, Saint Andrew’s Day was the first of winter holidays to involve fortune-telling. One could see one’s future spouse in a dream. Write various names on small pieces of paper, roll them into rolls, and leave them under your bed. You will see the name of your future love on the piece of paper that has unrolled itself by the morning.
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