Wednesday, April 30, 2008


Tonight is a scary night. The witches (nõiad) are out and about, and the only thing that keeps them away are bonfires. This evening there are thousands of bonfires all over the country, accompanied with good food, good cheer, and good beer.

Tomorrow is May the First, a holiday all over Estonia. There is no reason for this holiday except that the people got used to it during the years of the Soviet Union when it was one of the most important holidays of the year. May the First was the workers’ holiday, a day not unlike our Labor Day, except this day was in the spring instead of in the fall. The First of May in the Soviet Union used to mean big parades, and Moscow used to have the grand military parades with armies of soldiers and thousands of tanks and missiles. But since the demise of the Soviet Union, the First of May has taken on a far less militaristic tone. It is, in fact, the holiday that signals the start of summer, and this is how it is treated.

And yes, it is a night when bonfires keep the witches away. Amazingly enough, this trick has worked well, for there have been no witches in Estonia for a long time.


pamela said...

May 1st also happens to be anniversary of the day that I missed my KINDERGARTEN GRADUATION and never got to do the MAY POLE DANCE because I was covered in CHICKEN POX.

But I'm completely over it.

Rolling_Estonian said...

May 8th is victory day in Russia, and the big event still takes place in Moscow, with day-long military parades and showing of Russian muscle. It was watched by 300,000+ people in Estonia, most of them with prideful tears in their eyes.