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01.05.24 - 31.12.24


The exhibition is open in the barn of the Seto farm at the Estonian Open Air Museum until the end of the year 2024.

The Estonian Union of National Minorities (ERÜ) connects various ethnic groups living in Estonia. Since 2014, a national minority working group has been operating by the Estonian Folklore Council. It values and promotes the culture and customs of different nationalities. In 2015, joint celebrations of calendar holidays were initiated. Although the timing of folk calendar holidays may vary among different peoples, there are still certain similarities in customs and rituals.

The photo exhibition 'PÄRIMUSAASTARING' (The circle of folk traditions) provides a brief overview of the recent joint festivities. It introduces the customs and handicrafts of Estonians, Setos, Erzyas, Latvians, the Mari, Mokshas, Chuvashians, Udmurts, Ukrainians, and Russians. Festive towels and icon covers of various ethnic groups are also displayed.

The photos were taken by Sergei Ledenyov and Toivo Treufeldt, the texts were compiled by Natalia Ermakov.

KOLIADA – WINTER SOLSTICE CELEBRATION on January 17, 2015, in the Hanseatic Hall of the Teacher's House, Tallinn.

In the Orthodox world, Christmas arrives on January 7th. It is celebrated from January 6th to January 19th, the long holiday comes to an end with bathing in an ice hole on Epiphany. Christmas customs blend pagan traditions with Christian beliefs. From January 6th, Koliada songs are performed to praise the birth of Christ. According to ancient beliefs, singing, chanting, and praying ensures fertility and well-being for the community. Children, young men and women go kolyada-ing – singing, giving short performances, and enjoying themselves. In return they receive tasty snacks – sweets, bread, pies, and the like. According to folk beliefs, during Koliada or the winter solstice, good overcomes evil. At the celebration, Ersas, Latvians, Mokshas, Udmurts, the Mari, Chuvashians, and Russians presented their Christmas customs, music, and dances.

MULTICULTURAL SHROVE TUESDAY on February 21, 2015, at the Kohtuotsa viewing platform on Toompea Hill, Tallinn.

The Shrove Tuesday customs of both the Estonians and other ethnic groups include sledding and long sled rides, building ice carousels, and sledding in a circle imitating the sun. Slavic peoples and the neighboring Finno-Ugric peoples have the tradition of eating pancakes and bidding farewell to winter on Shrove Tuesday. Shrovetide songs are relatively short, with magical and incantatory qualities. At the beginning of spring period, during Shrovetide, ritual songs to call for birds, dialogues with birds, various spring songs, rain chants, and spring incantations are sung. Ersas, Latvians, the Mari, Mokshas, Chuvashians, Udmurts, and Russians living in Estonia presented their ritual songs and dances, collectively calling for spring which marked the beginning of new life.

MIDSUMMER EVE PRE-PARTY on June 14, 2015, at the Seto Farm in the Estonian Open Air Museum.

Midsummer is not equally important to all nationalities, but for Estonians, Lithuanians, Latvians, and Slavs, it is one of the most important holidays of the year. The main features of the holiday are quite similar, as there have been a lot of mutual influences. Estonian Midsummer bonfires are lit in nature, but the holiday is also celebrated in cities. Midsummer is an ancient summer solstice celebration, with its roots going back to pre-Christian times. The plants blooming at Midsummer are believed to have magical and healing qualities. Before Midsummer, sauna whisks are made, and healing herbs are collected. Estonians, Latvians, Ersas, Mokshas, Setos, Ukrainians, and Russians introduced their Midsummer customs at the museum. Together, tables were set, traditional Midsummer food brought along was eaten, and drinks were tasted. The event featured performances by the Latvian National Culture Society folk ensemble ’Reevele’, the Ukrainian folk ensemble ’Žurba’, the Estonian-Mordvin Society folk ensemble ’Vastoma’, the Slavic folk ensemble ’Bõliina’, the Folk Song Society, the Udmurt folk ensemble ’Ošmes’, and the Seto leelo choir ’Sõsarõ’.

ALL SOULS' DAY on November 2, 2015, at the Tallinn Folk High School.

All nations share respect for their ancestors. For Estonians, this culminates on November 2nd and is expressed throughout late autumn. At the collective celebration of Estonian All Souls' Day, the participants could familiarize themselves with the rich customs and traditions associated with ancestor remembrance – traditional songs were sung, the customs related to honoring ancestors of five nations were presented. The abundant dining table also included the souls of the departed – a handful of each food item was placed on a handkerchief and placed under a bush in the garden. All Souls' Day was celebrated by the Estonian Folk Song Society, Natalia Ermakov and the Estonian-Mordvin Society folk ensemble 'Vastoma', Lyudmila Yamurzina, Maria Korepanova and the Udmurts Association 'Ošmes', and Galina Rõbalko and the ensemble 'Palan'.

The exhibition was curated by the Estonian Union of National Minorities (ERÜ), supported by the Estonian Ministry of Culture and the Estonian Association of Regional and Minority Languages.
Northern Estonia
Western Estonia
Southern Estonia