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.
Häid jõule! 🙂
Warm dishes- roasted pork, roasted turkey or goose (because you can not eat bird on New Year Eve- fortunate flys 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.
Homemade Sauerkraut, Fermented Cabbage, Hapukapsas is very important and popular dish in Estonia during autumn winter time and mandatory food during Christmas time.
What is Christmas without pate? Liver Pate
From first Advent until Chrstimas every night Estonian children put their shoe on their windowsill, because Päkapikud (little elfs) starts visits good children and brings at night in to the child slipper, some candy. Or Piparkook. Gingerbread