Eat Christmas Dinner Like Estonian

As You probably know, Estonians are the least religious nation.
Estonia is considered one of the “least religious” countries in the world, according to a 2011 poll, where only 29% of the population declared that religion was an important part in their daily lives. That’s not to say that the rest of the Estonian population is atheist, over the last decade there has been an increase in Neo Pagan, Buddhist, and Hindu beliefs.

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! 🙂

My family is very typical Estonian family. In Christmas table we have cold dishes: potato salad, smoked eel, marinated lactarius (mushrooms), meat jelly Sült and liver pate.

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.

For dessert gingerbread, homemade pies or cake.

Homemade Sauerkraut, Fermented Cabbage, Hapukapsas is very important and popular dish in Estonia during autumn winter time and mandatory food during Christmas time.

Look How to Do Sauerkraut by Yourself. Believe me, this is easy, but need patience and purity and accuracy.

Pumpkin Salad. Pumpkin Salad is mandatory salad on Estonian Christmas table. Together with Cowberry- Apple salad, Black Pudding and Roast Pork. Estonian Pumpkin Salad is not sweet.
k6rvits (1)

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



10 thoughts on “Eat Christmas Dinner Like Estonian

  1. Fascinating! Are there any other traditional kinds of kapsas … also lots of english language tourism sites say blood sausage is a must. Is that typical as well?


    1. Yes, blood sausage is MUST 🙂 with cranberry or cowberry sauce. During wintertime we eat fermented cabbage, you can find recipe from my blog.
      But yes, we eat fresh cabbage as well 😉


  2. I’m an Aussie and my daughter in law is Estonian, so we are having our very first Aussie/Estonian Christmas due to COVID, apart from the recipes you have here, which are fantastic, is there anything special I can do to surprise my daughter in law. Thank you


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s