SUMMER in Estonian Open Air Museum
Every day in June, July and August
“Farm folk wisdom and sustainable environment”
Today, it seems more and more necessary to be able to live like our ancestors did: in an environmentally friendly way focused on the family and the community, passing one’s knowledge to the next generation, following the natural rhythm of the day and seasons of the year. Old tried and tested skills and everyday wisdom which help one cope with difficult times are gaining more and more respect. It is once again useful to know how to grow plants and care for poultry and domestic animals, how to cook and preserve food, how to mend your clothes and do other handicraft or how to boost your health. Another thing to be learned from times long gone is how to enjoy fun games and physical activity as well as to live in harmony with the surrounding nature.
It is namely these simple skills and knowledge passed down to us through centuries that we want to share with all of you this summer, so that we can do something together for our living environment be healthier and for us to feel safe.
Do come to the museum where you will be able to learn and teach your to notice and care about nature, value old customs, do some simple types of farm work as well as share moments of leisure and enjoy life with your loved ones.
ACTIVITIES ON FARMS
How did people live in the old days?
The exhibition on Sassi-Jaani farm features an introduction to Estonian rural architecture and way of life throughout centuries.
If you are interested in learning more, welcome to short guided tours:
11:00 How they lived 200 years ago: buildings and daily life. What were our ancestors’ homes and everyday activities like?
13:00 From barley to basil or what Estonians have been growing for food throughout history
15:00 How they lived 200 years ago: animal husbandry. When ware dogs domesticated, and did cows give milk all year round?
Flax processing. Logging and chopping firewood
A rural family never lacked work or chores to be done. They would sweat away in the fields, pastures or hay meadow, in the barn and on the threshing floor, in the summer kitchen or at the barn oven all day long, from dusk to dawn. Skills would be learned from parents and grandparents, and everything had to be done by the farm folk themselves.
11:30 Flax plant to shirt linen. What types of work did making fabric involve? Come by and try doing them yourself!
13:30 What did people use for heating in old days, how did they do logging and firewood chopping, where did they get brushwood and how did they sharpen their tools? We will teach you to whet knives and axes, and you can try using a two-handled saw and cutting brushwood.
15:30 Flax plant to shirt linen. What types of work did making fabric involve? Come by and try doing them yourself!
On the farm, you can also see chickens wandering in the yard. Feel free to ask the farmwife why the rooster looks flashier than hens, what chickens eat and when they lay eggs.
Games and responsibilities of shepherd kids
In times long gone, children on farms took part in working in the field or making hay as early as they could and also helped adults by pulling weeds in the vegetable garden or grazing and taking care of cattle. Still, there was time left for having fun and playing merry games.
12:00 Do you know such games as “weighing the farmhand’s bread bag” or “horse game”? Have you ever tried crawling under the shaft bow or walking on wooden stilts? We will be playing old children’s games.
14:00 How to recognise young carrot plants and why do you need to thin them out? What colour are beet leaves and how do beans grow? Why do you need to pull weeds from vegetable patches? Why don’t you have a go at pulling weeds and spudding!
16:00 Do you know such games as “weighing the farmhand’s bread bag” or “horse game”? Have you ever tried crawling under the shaft bow or walking on wooden stilts? We will be playing old children’s games.
Housewife in 1930s: a genuine one-woman band. From making folk costumes to setting a European coffee table
It is amazing how a 1930s housewife would find time to care for livestock and do other farming chores, prepare elaborate dinners, set a perfect coffee table with little snacks made by the latest recipes, take part in the activities of women’s associations and make herself a historically accurate folk costume to wear to the Song and Dance Festival.
12:30, 14:30 What is the correct way to wear a folk costume? Why does a married woman have to cover her head and wear an apron? When did children get their first set of “best Sunday clothes”? also, a short workshop on weaving ribbons.
Next to the bran, there is a cage with two rabbits. You can watch them from a distance, but do not approach or feed them: they can get scared or fall ill!
16:30 “Coffee must be black like the night, scorching hot, and sweet like love;” in other words, how coffee was made, and the coffee table was set in the age of the first Republic of Estonia.
Schoolchildren in former times
This is a school like any other: long benches, kids, and the school master or mistress in front of the class. Still, there was a number of differences compared to modern schools. The time children spent going to school was rather short, and there were few subjects but a lot to be learned by heart. Kids generally liked going to school because it felt like a holiday compared to chores on the farm. However, some kids’ head just was not wired for learning, and going to school surely felt like school slavery to them.
11:30, 13:30 and 15:30 What schoolwork looked like for children in old times: put your smartphone or tablet away and try writing with ink and a dip pen for a change. Get the feel of it and see how difficult it was to achieve good penmanship.
Wool processing and laundry
Just like the time-consuming and labour-intensive process of turning flax into linen for making fabric, transforming wool into yarn and then into fabric was not at all a piece of cake. It would actually take weeks and even months! Laundry and ironing were also major chores which would take all day. Instead of a washing machine, laundry would be done by the farmwife herself, sometimes, if she was lucky, aided by the cotter woman.
11:00 Laundry day in olden times: how laundry was done, how soap was made, and how shirts were ironed.
13:00 Warm sheep wool socks: see how much work was needed to make yarn from sheared sheep wool.
15:00 Laundry day in olden times: how laundry was done, how soap was made, and how shirts were ironed.
There is a small flock of local breed sheep grazing in the field. Please do not attempt to feed the sheep yourself. Ask the farmwife: she might have a piece of bread in her pocket to offer to them.
How to heal your body and soul
Two centuries ago, farm folk would mostly doctor themselves with herbs and weekly healing Thursday sauna. There is even a saying whish goes like “sauna is the poor man’s doctor”. If the illness worsened or persisted, one would go to the village wiseman (or woman) who could read your fortune, charm illness away and make a stronger potion. As far as the alertness and agility of the mind were concerned, these were greatly aided by learning the ancestors’ stories passed down from generation to generation.
12:00 How were illnesses treated in former days? Why would cupping be used and in which cases would leeches be applied? What healing herbs should be gathered when, and how to preserve them for the winter?
14.00 Old folk stories about the treasure-bearing creature called “kratt” in Estonian.
16.00 How were illnesses treated in former days? Why would cupping be used and in which cases would leeches be applied? What healing herbs should be gathered when, and how to preserve them for the winter?
Russian house from Peipus
Growing onion and chicory, rearing goats, and making samovar tea
Russian Old Believers are a people with a fascinating history, religion and customs. A number of rules and taboos have remained unchanged in their lives for more than 350 years. The Russian house and its surroundings are where you can see examples of Old Believers’ cooking culture, livelihood, handicraft and general way of life.
12.00 What is this wonderful thing called Peipus onion and how do Old believers grow it? How is chicory coffee made, and how do you make a samovar sing?
14:00 What is this wonderful thing called Peipus onion and how do Old believers grow it? How is chicory coffee made, and how do you make a samovar sing?
16:00 What kind of animal is the goat, and why does the Evil One fear it? Goats Pipi and Juula who live on this farm are fun-loving and energetic dairy goats, each one with her own moods, traits and food preferences. The housewife of the Russian house from Peipus will gladly tell you what the goats eat, how they feel and what they think.
Exquisite patterns and home like a fortress
Setos have always lived “halfway in Russia and halfway in Estonia”, so, over the centuries, a unique people was formed whose language ordinary Estonians do not understand.
12:30 Setos are famous everywhere as craftspeople who create beautiful patterns. These patterns have always been cut in wood, embroidered and cross-stitched, knitted and printed. Have a look at Seto patterns and try block printing!
14:30 Seto Vanatalo is like a real fortress which only those who have been invited can enter. Which parts does such a large Russian three-row farm consist of? Why is the dwelling “fortified” on all sides? What are the chaff storage and the room called “seni”? What can you find in a Seto woman’s wardrobe?
16:30 Setos are famous everywhere as craftspeople who create beautiful patterns. These patterns have always been cut in wood, embroidered and cross-stitched, knitted and printed. Have a look at Seto patterns and try block printing!
Concerts by “LEIGARID” band on Sassi-Jaani farm every Saturday and Sunday at 11:00
From 30 May to 6 September
Accompanied by live music, a celebration which is different every time is born from the combination of traditional dances, songs, games and instrumental music. This year, “Leigarid” are hosting small-scale family gatherings rather than crowded village celebrations while the public can watch from a safe distance. Although guests cannot take part in games and dances this season, you can still have a dance of your own with your dearest family member, making sure to follow all safety rules.
FARM WORK DAYS every Thursday from 11:00 to 16:00
Farm folk would get up early, at dawn and with the rooster’s cry, on summer mornings to have a light breakfast and start working. All spring activities had to be completed by St. John’s Day (Midsummer) because hay-making had to be started after the greatest celebration of the summer. By July 25, St. Jacob’s Day, hay had to be in the loft, and rye harvesting would start.
During summer months, a rural family of the 19th or early 20th century will be working on one farm, field or hay meadow of the Open Air Museum every Thursday, doing some important bit of summer farm work. Ask the ticket office where you can find the farm owners’ family, farm hands or maids today.