Hello, dear sauna, hello, dear steam room!
23 June 2023 from 19:00
For Estonians, Midsummer Eve
is one of the festivals most abundant in traditions. In addition to magnificent
bonfires, lively music, tireless dancing, and creaking village swing, another
inseparable element of Midsummer celebrations has always been the sauna
fragrant with the smell of fresh birch whisks.
The year 2023 has been declared the Year of the Sauna,
so the Open Air Museum is honouring the country’s sauna legacy and introducing
the role of the sauna in Estonian people’s lives from cradle to grave.
to the museum to explore how sauna stoves are heated, take part in folk games,
and put your strength to the test, listen to fairy tales, look at the bonfire and enjoy the most romantic sunset in Tallinn.
The list of performers includes such bands as ‘Väikeste
Lõõtspillide Ühing’ (Estonian ‘Association of Small Accordions’), ‘Leigarid’
and many others.
Since the museum's parking lots cannot accommodate all cars, we recommend using public transportation or bicycles.
- Buses number 21 and 21B from Balti jaam and the city center bring you to the main gate of the museum (stop: Rocca al Mare).
- Bus number 21A from Väike-Õismäe also takes you to the main gate of the museum.
- From the city center, you can also take buses number 92 (night bus), 42, and 43 to the Zoo stop, and then take a 15-minute walk along the seaside road to the open-air museum.
- The front park near the main gate, the Tehasemaja parking lot, and the rear parking lot (approximately 800m towards Kakumäe) are open.
- You can bring your own bicycle to the museum or leave it in the bicycle parking lot in front of the ticket office.
- Rental scooters can be left in front of the ticket office.
Ticket offices are open on Midsummer's Eve:
- Main gate and ticket office until 23:00.
- Rear ticket office (approximately 800m towards Kakumäe) until 22:00.
The museum's farms and buildings are closed to visitors from 18:00 to 19:00 on that day.
Unfortunately, there will be no horse carriage rides!
19:00 Procession to light Midsummer bonfire
The procession to light Midsummer bonfire starts at the main gate at 19:00.
Swing Square – Midsummer
bonfire and the band ‘Väikeste Lõõtspillide Ühing’
At 19:15: welcome
At 19:20: lighting
the Midsummer bonfire
At 20:00: folklore
At 21:00, 22:00, 23:00:
Väikeste Lõõtspillide Ühing
At 23:45: the meeting of
Dawn and Twilight
Village Square – 19th
century village Midsummer party
programme from 19:45 to 23:00
At 19:45: Midsummer party
Locals and guests
from farther afield have gathered in the Village Square to celebrate Midsummer.
The folklore society ‘Leigarid’ will be keeping old customs alive, dancing and
singing and organizing fun crowd games.
Events on farms from 19:00
Köstriaseme farm –
sauna in the kiln room
It was entirely
normal a hundred years ago to use the same room (the kiln room) as living
quarters, a storage space for drying wheat, and a sauna where people would
bathe and use sauna whisks. The open kiln typical of Northern and Western
Estonia was perfect for sauna bathing.
The farmer’s family
have all cleaned up in the kiln room sauna and have rushed off to the bonfire. The
old farmwife has remained at home next to the warm kiln, and she can tell you
how to turn the kiln room into a sauna.
Pulga farm – sauna in
fairy tales and rituals
For our ancestors,
the sauna was a sacred place, which was treated with great respect. Going to the sauna was considered a ritual of
sorts and entailed a number of customs and superstitions. Even some old fairy
tales feature the sauna as one of the main plot components.
The sauna on Pulga
farm has been heated, and the bathers have a lot of tales to tell: about an
orphan who went to the sauna, about an ox and a wolf in the sauna, and about
the custom of whisking girls old enough to be looking for a husband with a
The threshing floor
is where you can see an exhibition about wedding customs in Northern Estonia
while the yard in front of the barn dwelling is a perfect place to play the
‘horse game’ and test how strong you are in mas wrestling.
Härjapea farm – household
hygiene in Estonia in the 1930s
cleanliness became more and more important in the 1920s–1930s, but old habits
were hard to break.
The hostess of Härjapea
farm is teaching the neighbour how to clean her home using simple tools and
detergents and listens to fascinating radio shows about the sanitary conditions
in towns on the radio.
Nulli-Maie sauna – life
and death in the sauna
Saunas on farm
grounds were often dwellings for the poorest peasants who earned their bread as
day labourers in larger households. The living quarters were cramped and had to
be vacated when the farmer’s family needed to use the sauna.
Disaster struck the
family of poor Nulli-Maie cotters just before Midsummer. Their breadwinner
passed away before the busy haymaking season. This time, the sauna stays cold
because the overnight vigil over the deceased is held there.
Roosta farm – sauna
When one fell ill, the sauna was the first-choice
remedy. It was used for treating colds and joint aches, skin conditions and
children’s diseases, and it was where the village
wiseman (or woman) administered the ancient Estonian massage treatment or
Whisking was considered to be especially good for
one’s health. Sauna whisks would be made of various tree species, each twig had
special powers, and there were rules on how to use different types of whisks.
The best time to make sauna whisks was before Midsummer or on Midsummer Eve.
In front of the sauna, the farmer will teach you how
to make birch whisks, and the village wisewoman can tell you what plants
acquire special powers on Midsummer Eve.
At 19:40, 20:20, 20:50, 21:50, and
22:20 you can listen to the Estonian archaic men’s chorale choir ‘Lüü-Türr’
perform in the farmyard.
Alar Krautman, who demonstrates cupping therapy, is also visiting from the Health Academy. Short lectures on sauna traditions will take place at 8:00 PM and 9:30 PM.
Jüri-Jaagu farm – sauna
and festive clothing. Games of the old days
People would always go to the sauna on the eve
of important events, when they had to wear their best clothes, be it a trip to
the church, Midsummer celebration, or a wedding.
On Jüri-Jaagu farm, the ritual of whisking the
young bride in the sauna before she leaves for the groom’s home has been
completed, and the older woman representing the bride’s mother for the wedding
checks that the girl is dressed appropriately. In front of the barn, the
bride’s sister is teaching villagers how to make the ribbons that go on the
instruments of the wedding music band.
The area in front of
the barn dwelling is for competing in strength and skill: tug of war, crawling
under the shaft bow, sack racing and other games village folks used to play.
Sauna on Jüri-Jaagu
talu farm – sauna and beverages
The sauna would
always be accompanied with refreshing kvass and beer. The owner of Jüri-Jaagu
farm is heating the sauna and brewing genuine islanders’ beer to refresh
workers on busy hot haymaking days.
– Estonians’ love of cleanliness
In the classroom, you can see a slide sequence showing the history of
saunas, toilets and laundry washing in Estonia, and there is a small exhibition
of 20th century pocket squares and underwear.
From 21:30 to 22:30, you can dance to the music of Folklore Club Maatasa at the courtyard of Kuie School.
Sepa farm – sauna and giving birth. Fortune-telling
Families had many
children in the old times, so the birth of a child was not a very special
event. When the woman was due to give birth to a new baby, the husband or even
the mother-to-be would heat the sauna. The sauna was the sheltered place where
the woman would give birth, alone or with the midwife’s help.
The young wife on Sepa
farm is crying in the sauna because of last year’s joy, and the baby’s first
cries are expected any minute.
In the house, the old
crone of Sepa farm is telling the baby’s fortune, but she has enough time to
tell villagers about their future romantic partners or next year’s luck.
Sauna in the Kolkhoz
apartment building – sauna as a party den
The role of the sauna
changed over time. While it was a sacred place in the old times, and you were
not allowed to raise your voice or utter a bad word there, it became a common
party venue in Soviet times, accompanied with loud pop music, drinks, shashlik
and smoked fish.
Behind the Kolkhoz
apartment building, it is the year 1993, and the dwellers are celebrating
Midsummer next to the sauna. The latest hits are blaring from the cassette
player, and there is plenty of fun and laughter, dancing, and flirting.
Delicious food on Midsummer Eve is
provided by Kolu inn, Food Academy, Saarte summer café and shop as well as our partners on
the Swing Grounds and in front of the sauna on Jüri-Jaagu farm.
Hiiumaa itinerant fishing house – sauna and stove coals
the sauna stove has cooled down, the remaining coals can be used for drawing!
Draw the picturesque sea view in coal and enjoy delicious cakes, pastries, and
drinks at Saarte summer café.
Sassi-Jaani, Nuki, Aarte, Kolga, Jaagu, Rusi, and Setu farms,
Russian house from Peipus, Sutlepa Chapel, and Orgmetsa fire station are open until 10:30 PM.
At the event, we will be using Ringo reusable dishes
and kindly ask attendees to dispose of their dishes in the yellow Ringo trash bins.
Partners and sponsors: Cultural
Endowment of Estonia, A Le Coq, Alar Krautman Health Academy,
Haabersti Linnaosa Valitsus.