It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in Estonia! Estonians celebrate Christmas Eve on December 24 and Christmas on December 25. But have you ever wondered how they celebrate this lovely holiday? Here are some things I noticed last year, when I visited Estonia for the first time, during winter holidays.
First of all, Estonians get in the Christmas spirit 4 weeks before December 25. In the fourth Sunday before Christmas, people usually set up an arrangement of 4 candles, they light up the first one, and celebrate the first advent. Each following Sunday, they light up another candle, until the last advent, when all 4 candles are lit.
In addition, it is also very common (especially for kids) to have an advent calendar, composed of 24 little presents. From December 1, they can open one present every day, until Christmas day. That’s a tricky one, though. I’m not sure I would have the patience to open the presents one by one 😀
Moreover, Estonians decorate the Christmas tree together with their families and prepare a lot of food to be enjoyed at the big, Christmas table. Some of the dishes that must be prepared are:
- blood sausages (eeeeew, I hate them)
- oven baked potatoes
- meat in jelly (not a big fan of this one, either)
- potato salad (and a myriad of other different salads)
For dessert, gingerbread cookies cannot be missed. Families spend time making and decorating them; quite a fun activity, to be honest 🙂
Estonians put a lot of thought in Christmas gifts, as well. They spend a tremendous amount of time trying to find the perfect gift or even making it, by themselves.
Another Christmas specific thing in Estonia, especially in the capital, is to visit the Christmas market, in Tallinn. The market is well-known for its beauty and I must say it holds an incredible cozy atmosphere. You can buy various hand-made items, drink a glass of hot chocolate or glögg and feel the Christmas spirit together with your loved ones. Also, the place looks magical.
Lastly, Santa Claus, or Jõuluvana in Estonian, brings a lot of joy to children on Christmas day. Packed with many gifts, Santa Claus gathers many poems or songs from good kids not only in Estonia, but around the world, as well. The naughty ones, will not be so lucky to receive their desired presents.
All in all, I can say that Christmas in Estonia is a family holiday, where everybody embraces the magical spirit.
Do you know any other things Estonians do during Christmas holidays? Let me know in the comments. Also, check out these 15 general things I learned about Estonia and Estonians, so far!