As You probably know, Estonians are the least religious nation.
The Estonian word jõulud (Christmas) is of ancient Scandinavian origin and comes directly from the word Jul/ Hjul which means “cycle”, and has no real connection with Christianity.
In 22th of December the Sun rises in Estonia at 9. 17 a clock and sets at 15.22. So, we do not need any fairy tales. We have very practical reason to celebrate 🙂
Jõulud as the winter solstice , when the day is the shortest and the night the longest, is celebrated between December 21 and 25. According to folk-tradition, “the sun was laying in the nest” and the day was celebrated as the Sun’s birthday. From that day on, the Sun started to rise and move slowly to the north again.
To have plenty of Christmas food at home symbolically meant enough food for the whole coming year. According to an old tradition, seven to twelve different meals were served on Christmas Night. Christmas food had to remain on the table (as part of the cult of the ancestors) and the fire burning in the fireplace or candles (as sun worship) for the whole night. It was believed that both good and bad forces were on the move on Christmas Night and that ancestors would visit the house.
On the Christmas eve, after dinner, comes in the evening Santa Claus. To redeem and get the presents everyone must to do something. In my family we are singing christmas songs or reading poems.
Every country has its own share of Christmas customs, some of which may seem a little strange to foreigners, and Estonia is no exception. Instead of leaving milk and cookies out for Father Christmas, Estonian children leave slippers on the window sill for the elves, who will, in return leave sweets in the morning.
Warm dishes- roasted pork, roasted turkey or goose (because you can not eat bird on New Year Eve- fortunate fly away :)), Black Pudding- Verivorst, Verikäkk with cowberry or cranberry sauce, mustard (Estonian mustard is VERY strong!), horseradish, beet-garlic salad, pickled cucumbers and marinated pumpkin.
And notice there are AND not OR between dishes. Maybe younger generations have already other habits. But mine generation and my parents and grand-parents, still remember time lack of food and celebration means a lot of food for family and for lost ancestors souls.
So, one of our traditional Christmas food: pork with sauerkraut.
Oven baked Pork with sauerkraut. Sealiha hapukapsaga
Traditional Estonian Christmas food is pork with sauerkraut.
- 1 kg pork (leg or loin with fat or belly or rind)
- 500 g sauerkraut with carrot
- salt, pepper, mustard, garlic
- Cut until the rind with sharp knife regular grid-shaped incisions. This decorate the pork and helps cutting at the table.
- Rub the meat with salt-pepper and mustard. And let stand for 1 hour in to room temperature
- Preheat oven maximum temperature
- Put in the bottom of iron oven pot cabbage and some garlic, rosemary or thyme, if you like. Add water enough to cover cabbage. And on the top put meat- rind side is upper.
- cover pot with lid and put in to the oven
- decrease heat to 175C
- Bake a pork 1 hour, while meat inside temperature is 85C.
- If you like, remove lid and grill meat to get crunchy rind
Head isu! Häid jõule!
Soundtrack Vello Orumets ” Tiliseb, tiliseb aisakell”