Sunday, 21 May 2017

How many people actually speak Estonian in Estonia?

Earlier this year the Estonian Bureau of Statistics released a report detailing the number of Estonian speakers in Estonia. At the beginning of 2016 there were 883,707 people in Estonia who spoke Estonian as their mother tongue, i.e. 68.4% of the population. The report is a good read covering the different regions.

To read the full report (in Estonian) please click here: Kui palju räägitakse Eestis eesti keelt?

Thursday, 18 May 2017

How tens of thousands of Eastern European immigrants helped rebuild Britain in the dark days after WWII

Yesterday the Daily Mail published this interesting article describing how displaced persons (DPs) helped rebuild Britain after World War Two.  Their invaluable contribution to society not only took place in Britain but in other countries too. In Australia, many of the Europeans who fled Soviet terror worked on important building projects and expanded industry.  It was the perfect arrangement, DPs needed a safe new home after the war and countries needed to fill their labour shortages.

Amid dark times when essential industries were crippled by staff shortages, immigrants from Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania filled a gap in the workforce and restored communities across the country.  

Between 1946 and 1950, 13,000 Latvians, and more than 6,000 Lithuanian and 5,000 Estonian Displaced Persons (DPs) came to Britain as part of two organised European Volunteer Worker schemes, Balt Cygnet and West Ward Ho!

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

It's easy to fall in love with Tallinn! See why!

Century old buildings, cobbled stone streets, narrow winding passages ways and delightful courtyards, these are some of the things that makes Tallinn so enchanting. Everyone who visits Tallinn is in awe of its splendour which is why people always say they can't wait to go back! Just watching this video makes me long to return!

Monday, 15 May 2017

TRAD.ATTACK! - New Song - "Sõit'' (Ride)

If you're a fan of Trad Attack! then you'll be happy to know they have recently released a new single. The song, ''Sõit'' (Ride), is from their album "Kullakarva''  (Shimmer Gold).  You can listen below. It's good!

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Estonian village of Thirlmere is the only entirely Estonian village in Australia

The Estonian village of Thirlmere located 89 kilometres south-west of Sydney is a unique place. Renown for its Estonian community, the village has its own homes, hostel, café, community centre, church and graveyard. It is the only entirely Estonian village in Australia.

Estonian folklorist Mare Kõiva recently visited Thirlmere and shared her experience with Vikerraadio. She tells how the village was founded and why it was chosen as a place to live in Australia,

Many Estonian immigrants settled in Thirlmere from 1924 onwards, especially after the Second World War when tens of thousand had fled to avoid being sent to Siberia for alleged political and economic crimes. Estonians are largely responsible for the development of the successful poultry industry, which at one stage was the largest egg producer in the state and still provides the great majority of NSW's poultry produce. Many of the younger generations of Estonians have left the area and moved closer to the city but other original immigrants and newcomers live there still in Australia's only Estonian Retirement Village.

You can listen to the radio interview here (in Estonian): Eesti lugu. Austraalia 2

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Only a few sleeps to go until the Eurovision Song Contest begins in Kyiv!

The 2017 Eurovision  Song Contest commences on Tuesday 9th May in the beautiful Ukrainian city of Kyiv. 42 countries will compete in this year's competition including Romania and Portugal who are returning to the competition after a year’s absence. Estonia's entry 'Verona' will be performed by Koit Toome and Laura when they take to the stage on Thursday 11th May 2017 in the second semi-final. Fingers crossed they make it to the final!

For more information about Eurovision Song Contest, please click here: Eurovision 2017

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Estonian immigration exceeds emigration for second year in a row

According to revised data released by Statistics Estonia on Thursday, 1,315,635 people lived in Estonia as of Jan. 1, which was 309 fewer than one year prior. The population decreased by 1,339 due to negative natural increase but increased by 1,030 due to positive net migration.

In 2016, net migration was positive for the second year in a row, with immigration exceeding emigration as 14,822 persons took up residence in Estonia and 13,792 persons left Estonia during the year. As external migration is often left unregistered by Estonian residents, as of 2015, Statistics Estonia also takes into account unregistered migration in addition to registered migration and as a result, the migration flows since 2015 have been larger compared to previous years.

To read the full ERR News article, please click here: 

Saturday, 29 April 2017

Ilus Eesti! 24 Photos That Will Make You Fall in Love with Estonia's National Parks

Estonia is renowned for its beautiful forests and photogenic landscapes. Over fifty percent of Estonia's landmass is covered in forest.  To really capture the essence of Estonia's natural beauty, a trip Estonia's Lahemaa National Park is a must! Travel website Culture Trip recently put together a collection of 24 of the best photographs taken in Estonia's National Parks - check it out!

To view all 24 photosgraphs from the collection, please click here: 

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Estonian film “November” to be released in cinemas in North America later this year

Great news! The Estonian film 'November' which had its world premier at the Tribeca Film Festival recently has now been picked up by distributor Oscilloscope Laboratories for cinema release. 'November' is due to screen in cinemas in the US and Canada later this year.

The film 'November' is based on the Estonian bestselling novel Rehepapp by Andrus Kivirähk. The story is a mixture of magic, black humour and romantic love. In a pagan village where werewolves, the plague, and our ancestral spirits roam, lives a young farm girl named Liina. She is hopelessly in love with village boy Hans and lives out her desperate longing as a werewolf, running after her beloved, ready to die in the name of love. The main problem for the villagers is how to survive the cold, hard winter and, for that, neither stealing nor cheating nor losing one’s soul is taboo. Where does love fit into this world of pragmatism where anything goes?

Estonian pagan and European Christian mythologies come together in this film. Both mythologies look for a miracle, for an ancient force that gives one a soul.

Film details and credits:
Original title: November
Genre: fantasy, romance
Language: Estonian
Director: Rainer Sarnet
Screenwriter: Rainer Sarnet
Based on: Rehepapp by Andrus Kivirähk
Cinematographer: Mart Taniel E.S.C
Art Directors: Jaagup Roomet, Matis Mäesalu
Editor: Jaroslaw Kaminski
Music by: Jacaszek
Sound design: Marco Vermaas
Main cast: Rea Lest, Jörgen Liik, Dieter Laser, Arvo Kukumägi, Katariina Unt, Heino Kalm Producer: Katrin Kissa
Co-producers: Ellen Havenith, Lukasz Dzieciol
Produced by: Homeless Bob Production (Estonia), PRPL (The Netherlands), Opus Film (Poland)

Monday, 24 April 2017

Tõnis Mägi song "KOIT" (Dawn) with English translation

Last year I was contacted by a reader asking if I had an English translation for the popular Estonian song 'Koit'. At the time of enquiry I had never seen an English translation of the lyrics and was unable to assist. A few days ago I came across this video online.

For those unaware, 'Koit' is a moving and powerful song, dear to the hearts of many Estonians. It was the main song during the Estonian Singing Revolution when Estonians fought to regain their independence from the Soviet Union between 1988 and 1991.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Tartu University develops new online translating tool

Greta news! Language technologists from the Institute of Computer Science at the University of Tartu have developed a new translation tool making it even easier to understand the Estonian language!

Estonia from Above - Aerial Drone 4K Film

Monday, 17 April 2017

Estonia 100 kicks off with national hike - ERR News

The Estonia 100 centennial program began Sunday with a national day of hiking in springtime snow along the former border which once divided modern-day Estonia into the Governorate of Estonia and the Governorate of Livonia.

"One hundred years ago, North Estonia and South Estonia were separated by a governorate border which we will symbolically erase from the map with this hike," said Margus Kasterpalu, Estonia 100's director of major events, according to a Government Office press release. "In this way, we will celebrate the emergence of our country, which was an important milestone on the road to independence."

Groups of hikers headed out along the over 400 kilometer long former border which ran from the northwestern shore of Lake Peipus to Tõstamaa in Pärnu County. Hikers carried GPS devices which allowed others to follow their paths on a virtual map as the border line was erased by hikers on the move.

To read the full ERR news story, please click here: Estonia 100 kicks off with national hike

Estonian government endorses bill to disband county governments - ERR News

The Estonian government on Thursday gave its nod to a bill that will disband Estonia's 15 county governments and divide up their current functions between municipalities and state institutions; the bill was thereafter forwarded to the Riigikogu.

The government has decided to terminate county governments as of Jan. 1, 2018. The reorganization of county governments will not eliminate counties as administrative units, however.

In accordance with the bill, the function of organization of public transport via public transport centers will be handed over to the National Road Administration, while supervision over educational institutions will be taken over by the Ministry of Education and Research, the coordination of the organization of educatin to Foundation Innove, the issuance of activity permits in the social sphere and supervision thereof to the Social Insurance Board, land reform and procedures with land to the Land Board and the analysis of youth work, programs and subsidies to the Ministry of Education and Research and the Estonian Youth Work Centre.

To read the full ERR News article, please click here: 

Friday, 14 April 2017

Happy Easter! Häid lihavõtteid!

In Estonia, Easter marks the beginning of spring- it's a time of celebration and tradition. Some of these 19th century traditions are still practised today! 

Easter is referred to by many different names in Estonian: Ületõusmispüha (Resurrection), Lihavõtted (literally meaning meat-taking holiday, marking the end of Lent), Munadepüha (egg holiday), and Kiigepühad (swing holiday, referring to the tradition of swinging on the large wooden village swing on Easter Sunday).

Easter Sunday in Estonia is usually celebrated with a long lunch, egg painting, and an old fashioned Easter egg hunt. It's common to decorate your own eggs, typically the eggs are painted with natural colourings like onion skins or beetroot juice, then put in a basket as a centerpiece for the table. Having real eggs on the table is crucial for the after meal egg-knocking competition, where each year a new champion emerges. It's simple, you tap the end of your egg against your opponent's and the shell that doesn't crack is the winner!

Many of the Easter customs, like egg-knocking, that are still practised today come from old folk traditions. Egg rolling, though not widely practised, has the same principle as egg knocking, trying to crack your opponent's egg. An egg is rolled down a pile of sand to try and hit other eggs- how intricate the ramp is, is completely up to you. The person whose egg remains intact, wins!

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Estonian National Museum turns 108 tomorrow! Palju õnne Eesti Rahva Muuseum!

The Estonian National Museum will turn 108 years old on April 14. This will be the first year the museum will celebrate its birthday at its new location. Palju õnne!

To read more, in Estonian, please click here: Palju õnne, Eesti Rahva Muuseum!

Ühenkoorid - Isamaa ilu hoieldes (X noorte laulupidu 01.07.2007)

The working week has come to an end and the Easter holidays are about to begin. Getting into the festive mood I've spent my afternoon listening to some classic Estonian songs. This one I've played about five times. I love it! 

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

12 April 2017 marks one hundred years since the two Estonian-speaking territories were merged into a single entity

On 12 April 1917, the Russian Provisional Government approved the law on the provisional autonomy of Estonia. Based on this law, the Governorate of Estonia and the Estophone northern part of the Governorate of Livonia (Tartumaa, Võrumaa, Pärnumaa, Saaremaa) where joined together.

In other words, this date marked the beginning of the preparations for the proclamation of the independence of the Republic of Estonia on 24 February 1918. 

This day is celebrated in Mihkli Parish for the reason that, back in the old days, this parish was the only one of which a half belonged to the Governorate of Estonia and a half to the Governorate of Livonia.

Click here to read the speech by Estonian Prime Minister Juri Ratas: 
The founding of the Republic of Estonia would have been inconceivable without our sense of unity

The lands settled by Estonians were unified and the Estonian contour was created.

Additional reading. 
A hundred years ago the lands settled by Estonians were divided between the Governorate of Estonia and the Governorate of Livonia. Even though Estonians lived and the Estonian language was spoken both in the Governorate of Estonia and the northern part of the Governorate of Livonia, those settlements were separated by a strict border. After the February Revolution in Russia in 1917, Estonian nationalists started to demand that the Russian Provisional Government establish a unified and autonomous national governorate. To this end, a demonstration was organised in Petrograd on April 8, 1917, after which on April 12 the Russian Provisional Government issued a decree to join the counties of Pärnu, Saare, Tartu, Viljandi and Võru in the Governorate of Livonia with the Governorate of Estonia. The lands on which Estonians had lived for thousands of years were once again united, and we could now enjoy the sea views, the silence of the marsh and the scent of our spruce and pine forests without a dividing border.

Source: EV100

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Winner of the new Baltic two Euro centenary coin announced

In 2018 the Baltic States of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania will celebrate their centenaries. To mark the occasion, a competition was held to produce a special 2€ commemorative coin. Each of the Baltic States submitted two designs and a public vote took place online to choose the winner. 

The winning design was produced by Lithuanian artist Justas Petrulis and shows a symbolic plait in which the fates of the three Baltic sisters intertwine.  

The winning design: 'Baltic sisters with plaited hair'.

During the two weeks of online voting, 14 302 votes were received. People from every continent except Antarctica voted for their favourite design. Alongside voters from Europe were others from Japan, Australia, Argentina, Canada, India, Morocco and the United States. The vast majority of 93% of the votes came from the three Baltic states, with 36% of the votes coming from Estonia, 32% from Latvia, and 25% from Lithuania.

In total, 4277 votes were cast for the work by the young Lithuanian designer Justas Petrulis; this is his debut in coin art.

Petrulis expressed the idea of his work in a poem:

Baltic sisters plaited their hair
As if one story – joint plait.
Mutual past, present and future,
Century of States unites three Baltic daughters.

The 'Three Hands' & ''Three Pines' were Estonia's coin submissions.

The two-euro coin with the winning design will be minted in all three Baltic States and will enter circulation in early 2018.

100 random participants from the online vote will each receive a gift pack of three commemorative coins in special souvenir packaging – a coin from each of the Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian mints.

For more information, please click here: New Centenary Baltic Coin

If Tesla were a country it would be Estonia!

Friday, 7 April 2017

5 exciting new attractions coming soon to Estonia

Estonia has always been a country full of pleasant surprises. With each visit comes the opportunity to discover something wonderful and new. During the next few years Estonia will be opening a range of exciting new attractions making, the country even more appealing than before. Here are five of the best:

1. Skypark  - Giant Ferris Wheel 

Due to open October 2018, the giant Ferris wheel stands at 120 metres tall and will be the largest public object displaying the EV100 logo. The Ferris wheel will be part of the 6,000 square metre Skypark complex, featuring large indoor trampolines, various ball games, a 4D cinema and science centre.

2. Sea Star Centre 

Meritäht Dirhamis
Meritäht /Seastar

The 'Meritäht' / 'Sea Star' complex will be Estonia's first multi-functional marine centre under one roof. Due to open in 2019, it will include an ocean fish aquarium, water park, adventure park, science centre, a diving centre and an indoor beach.

3.Kosmopark (Space Park) 

The Kosmo Park in Põltsamaa is set to be the largest indoor space-themed amusement park in the Baltic region. Due to open in the autumn of 2018, the park will offer a unique combination of wind tunnel and thematic attractions. Experience what it's like to be an astronaut and float in a weightless state, or try the virtual climbing wall. Many adrenalin filled activities await you!

To learn more, you can watch the promo video here: Kosmopark - kosmoseteemaline perepark Põltsamaal

4.Wow Centre Kuresaare

Wow Centre Kuresaare

The Wow Centre is sure to thrill those interested in optical illusions. Here you can experience walking in the rain without getting wet, climb underwater and experiment with space.  The Wow Centre will also include a planetarium, 4-D movie theatre and "Selfiedrome" in which visitors can take pictures of themselves participating in historical and other exciting scenes.  Hours of fun for the entire family!

5. Noblessner Virtual Reality Experience Centre

The Noblessner Virtual Reality Experience Centre will enable visitors to step back in time and experience life in the 19th century. The centre has 15 experience points where you can try everything from a hot air balloon ride to controlling an aircraft.  Use your problem solving abilities to complete tasks in different environments. The centre is set to open in Tallinn by the end of 2018.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Tallinn shortlisted for European Green Capital 2019 & European Green Leaf 2018 Awards

The finalists for the European Green Capital Award (EGCA) 2019 and European Green Leaf Award (EGL) 2018 have been announced. Ghent (Belgium), Lahti (Finland), Lisbon (Portugal), Oslo (Norway) and Tallinn (Estonia) are the five finalists shortlisted for the EGCA. For the EGL, the finalists are Leuven (Belgium), Ludwigsburg (Germany) and Växjö (Sweden).

The shortlisted cities will now have to convince the Jury of their overall commitment to ongoing environmental improvement and sustainable development, their capacity to act as a role model, and their strategy for communicating with the public. This year’s winners will be announced at an award ceremony on 2 June 2017 in Essen, Germany, the current European Green Capital.

To learn more, please click here: European Green Awards

Estonia: Mythology Case Study

Claasical music in Estonia - introduction by composer Rasmus Puur

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

On this day in 2004 Estonia became a proud member of NATO - the strongest security alliance in the world

There are currently 28 member countries in the NATO defence alliance, they are:

ALBANIA (joined 2009)
BELGIUM (joined 1949)
BULGARIA (joined 2004)
CANADA (joined 1949)
CROATIA (joined 2009)
CZECH REPUBLIC (joined 1999)
DENMARK (joined 1949)
ESTONIA (joined 2004)
FRANCE (joined 1949)
GERMANY (joined 1955)
GREECE (joined 1952)
HUNGARY (joined 1999)
ICELAND (joined 1949)
ITALY (joined 1949)
LATVIA (joined 2004)
LITHUANIA (joined 2004)
LUXEMBOURG (joined 1949)
NETHERLANDS (joined 1949)
NORWAY (joined 1949)
POLAND (joined 1999)
PORTUGAL (joined 1949)
ROMANIA (joined 2004)
SLOVAKIA (joined 2004)
SLOVENIA (joined 2004)
SPAIN (joined 1982)
TURKEY (joined 1952)
THE UNITED KINGDOM (joined 1949)
THE UNITED STATES (joined 1949)

For more information about NATO, please click here: What is NATO?

Monday, 27 March 2017

Help space exploration by supporting ESTCube-2's crowdfunding campaign

After the successful launch of the ESTCube satellite in 2013, the team are now in the process of developing technology for the new ESTCube-2.  Help support this worthy endeavour and contribute to science by donating to their new crowdfunding campaign!

The development team are currently building ESTCube-2, a CubeSat three times the size of ESTCube-1, that will be sent to low Earth orbit. This is perfect for testing a 300 m long E-sail wire, or so-called tether. The revolutionary E-sail can give the satellite a push to move faster in the Solar System, but can also work as a brake in the Earth’s magnetosphere. On ESTCube-2 the team will use the E-sail as a plasma brake that can bring the satellite down faster and therefore help to mitigate the space debris. Space debris is a dangerous phenomenon. If we leave all the old and non-operational satellites to orbit the Earth and keep sending new ones up, then in 50 years the Earth will be surrounded by so many satellites, that safely accessing space would be become a lot more difficult. Technology developed on ESTCube-2 could be the solution!

The team are planning to complete ESTCube-2 in 2018 and launch it into space in 2019. The timeline is tight and they want to have the satellite completely finished in honour of the 100th anniversary of the Republic of Estonia. With your support, we could give this small but courageous country a one-of a-kind present – a high-tech satellite!

For more information and to watch the fundraising campaign video, please click here: ESTCube-2

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Remembering the victims of second and largest mass deportations of Estonians by the Soviets

68 years ago today, 3% of the Estonian population were seized and deported by the Soviets to remote areas of Siberia. Candles will be lit on Tallinn's Freedom Square today in the shape of Estonia, and the names of the 32,000 people directly affected by the deportations will be projected onto a large screen. 

May this crime never be forgotten.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

The 26th Estonian Song Celebration and 19th Dance Celebration "Touched By Time. The Time To Touch"

The Estonian Song Celebration (Laulupidu)

Always a joy to watch this truly unique Estonian event. The first Estonian Song Festival was held in Tartu in the summer of 1869 and now takes place in Tallinn every five years. The next song festival will be held in July 2019. Can't wait!

Monday, 20 March 2017

6 Proverbs in Estonian

There are three things you can not hide for long  - the sun, the moon, and the truth.

Parem on, kui igat asja ei kuule, aga ei ole halb, kui igat asja tead. 
It's better, if you don't hear everything; but it's not bad, if you know everything.

Mets kuuleb ja meri näeb. 
Forest hears and sea sees.

Värske kala, hea kala.
 Fresh fish -- good fish.

Tilkadest kogub meri. 
From drops the sea will accumulate.

The best feeling in the world is to see your children happy

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Literature Map of the World

It's great to see Tammsaare's 'Tõde ja õigus' (Truth & Justice) mentioned on the list. As a child I absolutely loved Canada's 'Anne of Green Gables' series as well as the film version starring Megan Follows. For Australia however, I would have picked 'The Thorn Birds', opposed to 'Cloud Street' as it's a great Australian classic! 


Thursday, 16 March 2017

Estonia: Europe’s Most Entrepreneurial Country

Very proud that Estonia was proclaimed the most entrepreneurial country in Europe! Below is a summarised version of the World Economic Forum report.

When you think of the word ‘entrepreneur’, you might conjure up a maverick who turned a great idea into a successful business. But you’re unlikely to imagine furious entrepreneurial activity in the small European country of Estonia. Yet, according to a World Economic Forum report, Northern Europe and the Baltics are a hotbed of entrepreneurial activity.

The report, Europe’s Hidden Entrepreneurs: Entrepreneurial Employee Activity and Competitiveness in Europe, looked at a form of entrepreneurship beyond the typical start-up – intrapreneurship – with some interesting conclusions.

Northern Europe leads the way when it comes to entrepreneurship and innovation.


Intrapreneurship involves workers formulating and implementing new ideas within organizations, rather than starting their own businesses. In the report these are called EEAs, which stands for entrepreneurial employee activity.

Entrepreneurial individuals in Europe frequently choose to start new ventures or projects while working for their employers rather than start their own business, the report found.

The report compares entrepreneurial activity within organizations with start-ups, which are referred to as “total early-stage entrepreneurial activity” or TEA.


When you look at TEA only, shown in dark blue on this chart, Europe doesn’t do very well compared to other major economies and regions.

However, when you add EEA into the mix, Europe comes after only the US, Canada and Australia.

In Europe, a greater proportion of entrepreneurship is expressed as EEA than anywhere else in the world: 40% of entrepreneurial individuals are EEA entrepreneurs, compared with 29% in the United States.

When you take both TEA and EEA together, a picture emerges of highly entrepreneurial Baltic countries. In this ranking Estonia comes out on top, while two of Europe’s largest economies, Germany and France, don’t even make the top 10.

Estonia has a high rate of TEA and an above average rate of EEA. Almost 80% of businesses started in Estonia are opportunity-driven and Estonia is often cited as a model for entrepreneurially-oriented policy, says the report.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Estonian story: The Moon Tarrers

I was sorting through some papers over the weekend and came across this story. I've had it stored away in my folder for over 20 years but have read it only once. It's a very short story and quirky like Estonian stories often are. I like the fact that it is written in both Estonian and English. Enjoy!

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Estonian Recipe: Rullbiskviit astelpajumoosiga / Sea buckthorn berry roll

Estonians love their berries and these golden little gems are no exception. They taste sort of tart and have been used for centuries for their health enhancing benefits. Native to China, Russia, and Mangolia, they can also be found in Estonia and are used in many forms. You can find fresh sea buckthorn berries at markets and in some health food stores as well as in supplement and skin care products. 

Health benefits of eating sea buckthorn berries:

Sea buckthorn berries are considered a superfood, they are loaded with nutrients, with at least 190 bioactive compounds. Just one little berry contains more vitamin C than a whole orange, and it’s a great source of fibre, protein and loads of antioxidants.

They have excellent antimicrobial and antiviral properties as well as antioxidants that help to boost the immune system.

Studies also show that sea buckthorn berries can help patients who suffer form liver disease, like hepatitis B, due to it’s high vitamin A and unsaturated fatty acids and help to protect the liver from damage caused by toxins.

Help to protect the heart by lowering bad cholesterol, reduce inflammation, promoting blood circulation and improving cardiac function.

Great for the skin as it helps to heal wounds and burns when applied topically. It also helps you look younger by acting as a natural sunblock. Due to its high healthy fatty acid content, it also helps to relieve symptoms of dermatitis.

Studies also show that sea buckthorn berries help to prevent excess fat storage and therefore promotes a healthy weight.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Johann Köler: Estonia's first professional painter

I woke up this morning to discover wonderful news in my inbox. sent me a message advising that I am related to Estonian painter Johann Köler.  He is my third cousin four times removed. Following the connection online I find we are both descended from the Jorik family, on my grandfather's mother side. This is a wonderful news for me especially as my sister and uncle are both painters today.

On this day in 1826, Estonian painter Johann Köler was born. A leader of the Estonian national awakening, Köler is considered to be the first professional painter of Estonia. Köler was born March 8, 1826 in Lubjassaare farmstead in Ivaski, Vijandi County to a peasant family. Although the family had little money, Köler managed to attend school and eventually study painting at the St. Petersburg Imperial Academy of Arts. Best known for his portrait paintings, Köler also worked as an art teacher for the Grand Duchess Maria Aleksandrovna, the daughter of Alexander II of Russia. During this time, a period in history that would be known as the Estonian Age of Awakening, Estonians began to see themselves as a nation that deserved the right to govern themselves. Köler used his connections with the imperial court to promote the cause of the Estonian people with intellectual leaders. 

One of his works - Lorelei Cursed by Monks (1887).
(My niece is called Loreley)

Portrait of Dr. Philipp Karell, Emperor's Physician (1886)
(Also a relative of mine)

Johann Köler was buried at Suure-Jaani Cemetery, Viljandi.

More information about Johann Köler can be found here: Johann Köhler / Köler & Works

Tuesday, 7 March 2017


If you like the Estonian band Trad Attack or simply want to learn a bit more about the beautiful country of Estonia, you might find this video of interest. I did!

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Koit Toome & Laura Põldvere to represent Estonia at Eurovision 2017

Congratulations to Koit Toome and Laura who won Eesti Laul last night with their song 'Verona'. They will now represent Estonia at the Eurovision Song Contest. Eurovision will be held in Ukraine this year from 9 - 13 May 2017.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

New book release 'Beautiful Balts: From displaced persons to new Australians'

If you are like me and have Estonian grandparents who were displaced after WWII you might find this new book of interest. Several members of my family spent time living in German refugee camps before they decided to start a new life in Australia. It was only recently that I discovered that my grandfather originally planned to migrate to Brazil, rather than Australia. I found this information written on his exit form from the Baltic University. My grandmother however, always dreamed of going to the United States but unfortunately her application was rejected. Bearing this in mind, I realise my life would be significantly different if they had reached those destinations. 

170,000 Displaced Persons arrived in Australia between 1947 and 1952 – the first non-Anglo-Celtic mass migrants.

Australia’s first immigration minister, Arthur Calwell, scoured post-war Europe for refugees, Displaced Persons he characterised as ‘Beautiful Balts’. Amid the hierarchies of the White Australia Policy, the tensions of the Cold War and the national need for labour, these people would transform not only Australia’s immigration policy, but the country itself. 

Beautiful Balts tells the extraordinary story of these Displaced Persons. It traces their journey from the chaotic camps of Europe after World War II to a new life in a land of opportunity where prejudice, parochialism, and strident anti-communism were rife. Drawing from archives, oral history interviews and literature generated by the Displaced Persons themselves, Persian investigates who they really were, why Australia wanted them and what they experienced. 

More information abou the book can be found here:
Beautiful Balts: From displaced persons to new Australians

Saturday, 25 February 2017

EV99 - Quotes for the homeland

To mark the 99th birthday of the Republic of Estonia, Delfi Newspaper published a list of 15 quotes (in Estonian) by some of humanity's great thinker relating to love for your homeland. 

1. "Kõigist raskustest hoolimata on Eesti õppinud selgeks ühe olulise tõe: kui tahad, et sind koheldakse riigina, tuleb ka käituda riigina." Lennart Meri

2. "Ärge küsige, mida saab kodumaa teie jaoks teha. Küsige, mida saate teie kodumaa jaoks teha." John Fitzgerald Kennedy

3. "Isamaa on ju nagu naine: kui sa ütled, et sa teda armastad, siis pead teda ka kasutama, muidu on sinu armujutt tühine." Anton Hansen Tammsaare

4. "Võõramaa libedal jääl oli palju raskem ennast püsti ajada kui kodukandi tuttaval pinnal." Erich Maria Remarque

5. "Ei ole suuremat valu, kui isamaa kaotus." Euripides

6. "Meist igaühest sõltub Eesti püsimine." Lennart Meri

7. "Me võime kurta - ja tihti just seda teemegi - et Eesti väiksus ei lase meil midagi teha. Seejuures kipume aga unustama, et tugevus peitub sisus." Toomas Hendrik Ilves

8. "Eesti suurim turvalisusrisk on harimatus." Jaak Jõerüüt

9. "Meie väikesele rahvusele on hariduse edu iseäranis tähtis, sest ainult iseseisvale rahvuslikule kultuurile tuginev väikeriik võib püsida ja püsima jääda teiste suuremate riikide keskel." Johannes Käis

10. "Eesti riigist saab kõigi siin elavate inimeste kodu vaid eeldusel, et selle elanikud oma kodu hoiavad ja kaitsevad, mitte aga ei ürita seda kodu maha müüa või põlema panna." Toomas Hendrik Ilves

11. "Meid, eestlasi, on niivõrd vähe, et iga eestlase siht peab olema surematus!" Jaan Kross

12. "Eesti rahvas on arvult väike. Seepärast ei tohi mitte ühegi inimese saatusele käega lüüa." Toomas Hendrik Ilves

13. "Kõigist raskustest hoolimata on Eesti õppinud selgeks ühe olulise tõe: kui tahad, et sind koheldakse riigina, tuleb ka käituda riigina." Lennart Meri

14. "Eesti ei saagi kunagi valmis. Ta kasvab paremaks ja tugevamaks. Ta küpseb avatumaks ja suuremaks. Meie ühise armastuse ja hoolimise toel." Toomas Hendrik Ilves

15. "Kõigist tundmusist koledaim on see, kui sa usu oma rahvusesse ja isamaasse kaotad." August Gailit

Source: Eesti Vabariik 99: 15 tsitaati kodumaa kohta

Friday, 24 February 2017

Head Vabariigi aastapäeva Eesti! Happy Independence Day Estonia!

The Republic of Estonia turns 99 today!

The tri-colour flag will be displayed with pride in every Estonian home.

Elagu Eesti!

President Kaljulaid bestows state decorations on 113 individuals

To commemorate the 99th anniversary of the Republic of Estonia, President Kersti Kaljulaid bestowed 113 state decorations on individuals yesterday for their distinguished work and support of the Estonian nation. The event took place at the NUKU Theatre in Tallinn.

It is great to see some familiar names among the recipients. Maie Barrow in particular has done an excellent job preserving Estonian heritage and culture in Australia. Congratulations!


The Order of the National Coat of Arms, 2nd Class

Taavi Rõivas, Prime Minister of the Republic of Estonia from 2014-2016

The Order of the White Star, 3rd Class

Marek Helm, developer of the tax and customs system

Andrei Jämsä, rower

Priit Perens, promoter of banking

Allar Raja, rower

Kaspar Taimsoo, rower

Lembit Ulfsak, actor

The Order of the White Star, 4th Class

Tõnu Aas, power engineer

Hiie Asser, promoter of language immersion, school director

Jaan Janno, mathematician, Tallinn University of Technology professor

Anne Kahru, ecotoxicologist, Estonian Academy of Sciences researcher and professor

Tiina Kallavus, school director, promoter of special needs education

Sirje Keevallik, atmospheric physicist, professor at Tallinn University of Technology

Ivi Kesküla, judge

Epp Maria Kokamägi, artist

Ülle Kruus, art historian

Mare Kõiva, folklore researcher

Andrus Maruoja, state official

Andrus Miilaste, judge

Natalia Miilvee, prosecutor

Ülle-Marike Papp, social scientist, promoter of gender equality

Peeter Peedomaa, promoter of entrepreneurship

Anti Puusepp, promoter of entrepreneurship

Riina Reinvelt, ethnologist, developer of the Estonian National Museum

Aarne Siimsen, state official

Niina Sõtnik, school director, promoter of education

Aare Toikka, producer, theater director

Indrek Treufeldt, TV journalist, lecturer

Peeter Urbla, film director, promoter of culture

Raul Vaiksoo, architect

Martin Veinmann, actor, teacher

Taavi Veskimägi, promoter of the energy sector

Raivo Vilu, biotechnologist, Tallinn University of Technology professor

Andres Ülviste, prosecutor

The Order of the White Star, 5th Class

Anneli Ammas, journalist

Väino Aren, actor

Angela Arraste, dance teacher

Maie Barrow, preserver of Estonian heritage in Australia

Aavi Dobrõš - recorder of history

Ivo Felt, film producer, sound engineer

Igor Garšnek, composer, musicologist

Rein Grünbach, art teacher

Johan Patrik Göransson, clergyman, keeper of Estonian-Swedish cultural heritage

Taimi Hillak, promoter of entrepreneurship

Maaja-Katrin Kerem, qualifications system developer

Ülle Kikas, promoter of education

Harri Koiduste, promoter of wrestling

Kaja Kärner, radio journalist

Mart Laanpere, promoter of the digital sector in education

Ira Lember, author

Ulla Länts, radio journalist

Silja Lättemäe, journalist

Kadri Mälk, jewelry designer

Janika Mölder, gymnastics trainer

Anne Oruaas, promoter of local life in Harju County

Sirje Plaks, promoter of lifelong learning

Rein Purje, recorder of history

Rein Raudsep, geologist, state official

Evar Riitsaar, artist, promoter of Seto culture

Ann Roos, organizer of children's creative contest "Sten's fairytale contest"

Ants Roos, organizer of children's creative contest "Sten's fairytale contest"

Ülo Roos, historian

Olivia Saar, children's author

Harry Seinberg, athletics trainer

Laine Sepp, music teacher

Juhan Sihver, Estonian broadcasting historian

Liivi Soova, promoter of handicrafts and folk art

Toomas Mihkel Sõrra, preserver of Estonian heritage in the U.S.

Tõnu Talvi, conservationist

Tiiu Teesalu, historian

Peeter Vähi, composer

The Order of the White Star, Medal

Reet Kaljula, promoter of the will to defend

Krzysztof Mieczysław Kaminski, servant of the Estonian Embassy in Poland

Tiina Kivikas, adjuster

The Order of the Red Cross, 2nd Class

Tõnu Endrekson, rower

Enn Jõeste, pathologist

Kaiu Suija, oncologist, helper of cancer patients

Karin Varik, children's surgeon

The Order of the Red Cross, 3rd Class

Märt Elmet, cardiologist

Ants Kass, orthopedist

Janek Laev, rescue officer

Toomas Tartes, surgeon

The Order of the Red Cross, 4th Class

Marianne Kuzemtšenko, helper of individuals with autism

Annika Laats, clergyman, organizer of pastoral care

Katarina Seeherr, music therapist, helper of individuals with special needs

Teija Tuula Marjatta Toivari, hospice developer

Reet Veenpere, speech therapist

The Order of the Red Cross, 5th Class

Arne Aas, blood donor

Priit Kaja, blood donor

Allen Leego, blood donor

Tõnu Lukk, blood donor

Aina Pääro, promoter of health

The Order of the Cross of the Eagle, 1st Class

Werner Freers, promoter of defense cooperation, general, Germany

The Order of the Cross of the Eagle, 3rd Class

Arnaud Coustillière, promoter of defense cooperation, vice admiral, France

The Order of the Cross of the Eagle, 4th Class with Swords

Eduard Meemann, freedom fighter

The Order of the Cross of the Eagle, 4th Class

Margo Grosberg, active serviceman, major

Illar Jõgi, police official, police lieutenant colonel

Hendrik Lõbu, security police officer

Merike Pappel, security police officer

The Order of the Cross of the Eagle, Silver Cross

Ramil Sadikov, active serviceman, sergeant major

The Order of the Cross of the Eagle, Iron Cross

Janek Pinta, police official, senior superintendent

Maarja Punak, police official, senior superintendent

The Order of the Cross of Terra Mariana, 2nd Class

Alexander Russell Vershbow, supporter of security cooperation, U.S.

The Order of the Cross of Terra Mariana, 3rd Class

Heinrich Brauss, NATO deputy secretary general Deputy Secretary General

Pär Anders Nuder, promoter of Estonian-Swedish relations

James J. Townsend, Jr., supporter of security cooperation, U.S.

Tadahiko Yoshino, promoter of Estonian-Japanese relations

The Order of the Cross of Terra Mariana, 4th Class

Norbert Angermann, promoter of cooperation in history, Germany

Serge Arnould, former honorary consul in Lyon, France

Bo Hugemark, promoter of Estonian-Swedish relations

Michael N. Schmitt, promoter of cybersecurity cooperation, U.S.

The Order of the Cross of Terra Mariana, 5th Class

Nils Riess, producer, promoter of Estonian theater, U.S.

Arvo Sulo Survo, promoter of Finno-Ugric culture, Finland

To view photos of the ceremony, please click here:
President andis täna riikliku teenetemärgi 113 inimesele