Easter and spring in Estonia

Although Easter is one of the most important Christian holidays, its traditions are blended with age-old folk beliefs and customs. The literal translation of Easter in Estonian, lihavõtted, is „meat-taking holidays“, hinting to the preceding forty-day Lent. In popular usage Easter is also called egg holidays, spring holidays and swing holidays.

Easter marks the beginning of spring gatherings and merrymaking of the village youth. The most widespread holiday tradition and spring entertainment was riding on the swings. This was supposed to ensure good crops and flax growth as well as bring good luck in one´s private life.

Dyed eggs have become an essential part of the Easter tradition. One of the most beloved Easter games is egg knocking. One holds a boiled egg and taps the egg of another participant, intending to break it, without breaking one´s own. Egg rolling is not so widespread in Estonia anymore. Decorated eggs were rolled down slopes in sand or grassland – the contestant whose egg touched that of another player or whose egg rolled the farthest got a prize.

It is customary to bring willow catkins home for the Easter. In the early hours of Palm Sunday members of the household were beaten with willow twigs to make them more industrious, stronger and healthier. In Northern countries willows serve as a substitute to palm leaves, symbols of the triumphant entry of Christ into Jerusalem.

Easter postcards made their way to Estonia after the First World War. Following European examples, they mostly depict themes connected with fertility and rebirth of nature in the spring – eggs, chicks, willow catkins, lovers or children, natural scenes, flowers and Easter Bunnies. In Estonia, the latter became popular only since the 1920s.

The joyous and merry spirit of Easter is also reflected in the traditional menu – after a long period of fasting it was now allowed to eat meat again. Easter dishes are cooked with plenty of cream and butter, not to mention curds, boiled eggs and various egg dishes.

Christmas at the Estonian Open Air Museum

Through ages, Christmas has been the most important holiday in the Estonian folk calendar. The customs of the age-old festival of the winter solstice have blended in with the Christian tradition, making up the most beloved and the most-awaited celebration of the year. This is the time to take a rest, rejoice, play and sing in the family circle as well as good friends.

The darkest time of the year brings along both reflective and merry moments. At the Estonian Open Air Musem one can get acquainted with the Christmas traditions of Estonian village folk. At Yuletide the museum’s old farmhouses become alive, their rooms are filled with flickering candlelight and delicious smells of holiday dishes.

The visitors can enjoy the Christmas celebrations of our anchestors, play traditional Christmas games, meet the rustical Santa Claus, listen to beautiful concerts in the old chapel and take a sleigh-ride in the forest park buried in the snow. Hopefully one can experience the Christmas spirit here as well as find a grain of wisdom about the bygone days.


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Joining the Network as Museum

Do you want to join the network as a museum? Then you should feel very welcome!

Before doing so, please read The Operational Guidelines carefully.

Then contact network-manager Ulrika Mebus at ulrika.mebus@gotlandsmuseum.se 


BALTMUS Annual Network Forum 4th - 8th April 2018 in Gdynia City Museum.

 The 2018 Annual Forum of Network of Museums took place in Gdynia City Museum between April 4th and April 8th, 2018. This forum marks the beginning of three-year presidency period for Gdynia City Museum. The task of coordinating the operations of the network bring excitement and expectation of an interesting challenge.

Forum gathered 32 representatives of 11 of the institutions gathered in the Network and five local museums. The first day of the Forum was devoted to the host institution. Our guest were given a curatorial tour of the exhibition “Gdynia – an Open Work”, the core exhibition of Gdynia City Museum. The tour was conducted by Ms. Agata Abramowicz, the Deputy Director of the Museum and one of the curators of the core exhibition. Later they took part in the opening event of the exhibition “Co Widzisz?” (What Do You See?), which uses a great selection from the vast photo collections of Gdynia City Museum to illustrate various roles of photography and the types of human perception. During the event the members of the forum were greeted by the Director of Gdynia City Museum, Dr. Jacek Friedrich, and the Deputy Mayor of Gdynia, Ms. Katarzyna Gruszecka-Spychała.

The second day, Friday 6th April, was devoted to the conference. First Dr. Łukasz Jasiński presented the international exchange framework entitled “Common Sea – Common Museums”, aimed at promoting peer-to-peer exchanges between the member institutions of the Network. Further discussions concentrated on two key subjects, pre-selected by the guest in an online query: Art, history, education – how to achieve synergy between different activities? And How to appeal to the visitors? In the ensuing discussions the members of the Forum agreed that while multiplying various programs aimed at attracting more visitors to the museums is effective, sometimes it might result in heavy pressure on the museum workers. During the conference Ms. Ulrika Mebus (Gotland Museum), who had coordinated the Network, presented the annual report of the forum and a few remarks of encouragement to the new coordinators from Gdynia.

On Saturday 7th April the members of the conference were invited to join a workshop on the “What Do You See?” exhibition, conducted by its curator, Ms. Agnieszka Pajączkowska. Our guests were given a unique insight into the aims of the exhibition and were encouraged to provide their insights on various elements of the exhibition. Later the group travelled to Gdańsk to visit the European Solidarity Centre, located on the site of the Gdańsk Shipyard famous from workers’ protests against Communist oppression in 1980.

Sunday, 8th April was an extra-curricular day for some of the guests. The programme included a visit in the Emigration Museum in Gdynia, where a curatorial tour was given by Dr. Michalina Petelska, one of the creators of the exhibition. The visit in this modern, narrative museum marked the end of the Annual Forum in Gdynia.

Gdynia City Museum takes the three-year presidency of the Network. We do hope that the success of the April Forum will be a good omen for the next tree years of Forum’s operations.

European Year of Cultural heritage 2018

Council and European Parliament have decided establishing a European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018. 

Cultural heritage encompasses resources from the past in a variety of forms and aspects.

The aim of this initiative is to raise awareness of European history and values and to strengthen a sense of European identity. At the same time, it draws attention to the opportunities offered by our cultural heritage, but also to the challenges it faces.


2017 International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development

The United Nation has designated 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.

This is a unique opportunity to raise awareness of the contribution of sustainable tourism to development among public and private sector decision-makers and the public, while mobilizing all stakeholders to work together in making tourism a catalyst for positive change. The museums are very imoprtant actors in this respect!


Europa Nostra to Estonian Open Air Museum!


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