Both in the Lutheran and Eastern Orthodox tradition, Shrove Tuesday is the eve of the first day of Lent. This is the last day when you can still eat rich foods and take part in loud and boisterous social activities. The Estonian Open Air Museum invites you to explore the customs of Shrove Tuesday and Maslenitsa on three separate days. Make sure to visit the museum on all the three occasions to learn about the similarities and differences between the Shrove Tuesday foods, games, and other traditions of Estonians, Setos and Old Believers.
FAMILY SHROVE TUESDAY
Traditional activities on our farms from 11.00 to 16.00
Sledging slope and the inn open from 11.00 to 18.00
Sassi-Jaani farm yard – Shrove Tuesday games
Farm folk would put aside pig trotter bones during the feast on this day and later take these to the pigsty or out to the field or grazing land. This was supposed to draw good luck to the pigs on the farm, ensuring their good health and safety in the summer. In Western Estonia, they would make a ball of rags and straw, which symbolised all kinds of bad things, and banish it from the land, chasing it away with sticks.
Over time, these traditions transformed into fun games of rag ball chasing and “chasing pigs to the field”, which the folks on Sassi-Jaani farm will gladly show to anyone who wants to know. Another old pastime you can try there is skiing on wooden skis.
Köstriaseme farm – flax to linen
In olden days, Estonians believed your flax plants would grow long if you managed a good long sledge ride downhill on Shrove Tuesday. The longer the plant, the nicer fibers it would yield, the thinner thread could be spun from it, and the higher the quality of resulting linen fabric. Linen would be sold at a high price, making the family more prosperous.
The hostess of the farm will show you the nine stages of flax processing, and her son will be teaching visitors to make linen rope.
Härjapea farm – traditional braids and carnival masks
Another popular wisdom said women had to comb their hair with special care on Shrove Tuesday and to have it cut so that it would grow thick and long. Cäroly Anton will be teaching visitors to make braids, some very simple and others quite challenging.
Shrove Tuesday carnivals gained popularity in 1930s, their participants wearing the disguise of animals, people of certain professions and other recognisable figures. You can see how masks were made in the kitchen on Härjapea farm.
Sepa farm – weaving ribbons
Most of women’s housework, especially spinning wool or linen, were forbidden on Shrove Tuesday. Still, one was allowed to weave ribbons (intended as gifts to swing masters for spring festivals). The hostess of the farm will show you how to make a beautiful ribbon.
Kuie school – Shrove Tuesday songs and bone spinners
When spinners made of pig trotter bones spin, they make a distinct buzzing sound, which was believed to scare away evil spirits. Feel free to join the workshop in the school building and make a spinner to protect you from evil!
Leanne Barbo will be teaching Shrove Tuesday songs in the classroom at 12.30, 13.30 and 14.30.
Kolkhoz apartment building – semla rolls ‘vastlakukkel’
In the 2019 apartment of the Kolkhoz dwelling, the owner will be baking ‘vastlakukkel’ rolls, a traditional Shrove Tuesday dessert, which has been a favourite for a century.
Kolu inn will be serving delicious Shrove Tuesday foods: pig trotters which are finger-licking good, hearty pea soup and the innkeeper’s special semla rolls filled with whipped cream.
Lau village shop – Lau village shop sells goods of the period of the ‘first republic’, including red-coloured liquor.
Windmills hill – If the weather allows, there will be slopes for sledging and an ice merry-go-round at the windmills.
Horse sled rides – In areas without any hills you can try to have the longest horse sled rides instead of sliding down a slope. And if there is no snow, we have carts for such weather.
Setu farm as well as the Russian house from Peipus will be open, but their busy hostesses will be celebrating the eve of the Lent on Maslenitsa by the ‘old’ (Julian) calendar, on 5 March.