So here is one more thing I did not know about Estonia: It has two Independence Days. That, I found out after researching “Fun Facts about Estonia” for our Estonian Night quiz – because what is better than exchange students being educated about their new country by another exchange student who doesn’t have a single clue what she is talking about? Nothing, you are correct. Another thing I didn’t know was just HOW many articles on “Estonian Fun Facts” are actually out there. But that’s a different topic.
After reading article after article about Estonia’s history, I now also know that Estonians don’t actually celebrate two Independence Days, but rather the initial one from when they first gained Independence in 1918 and the Day of the Restoration of Independence, when the Baltic countries gained Independence from the Soviet Union. (A little history lesson for all of you out there who didn’t know. You’re welcome.)
Thanks to all these articles I not only know a bit more about Estonia’s history, but I also get it now. I really do. The Estonians’ reserved nature makes complete sense to me, now that I know about all the invasions, wars and struggles this country and its people had to endure to become the country they always wanted to be. It also makes sense that such a small country with such an overwhelming history celebrates its Day of Independence – the real one – big time. And this year K and I – as the interested and dedicated expats we are – were celebrating as well.
Let’s be clear here, we went to the Parade. Not the flag hoisting. I really care for this country, but, in my book, nothing is important enough to get up in the middle of the night for! After an initial moment of horror – the massive amount of smiling people out on the street was scary and suspicious – I found us a spot right next to the fence on Vabaduse Väljak and envied all the little kids for the cool little flags they had. (I got one for myself a little later, don’t worry.)
As soon as the Parade started, I realized three things: Watching the president speak is only half the fun if you do not understand what he is talking about. My Estonian friend T, who we dragged with us, so she could explain what was going on, had NO CLUE what was happening. And my favorite out of all three: The Estonian army looks like a bunch of Stormtroopers in the winter. I can’t even put into words how happy it made me to watch them walk past in their white overalls.
It really felt special to walk around town that day. Kids were running around. People were cheering. Everybody went out for lunch after. It was nice to see Estonians be one big group for once. After six months of trying to figure out why nobody talks to each other on the bus this was a really nice change. Even walking home in the freezing cold was nice, with all these friendly looking people around. And then the moment was spoiled, for a bit, as I slipped on the ice and fell – again. I mean, I really do love you Estonia, but you’ve GOT to do something about the ice in the winter. If I fall one more time I’m going to cry. And that would ruin the whole happy feelings after Independence Day.
So that was it again. My comments on everything Estonian this week. Again, I’m one step closer to understanding this country. I hope you’re proud of me for digging deeper into your history. If you’ve got any suggestions for what I could comment on next, let me know!
Editor: Lisette Lindhardt-Jespersen