Cultural life in Estonian VH regions
Since regaining our independence in 1991 the cultural life in Estonia has changed as well. On the one hand there are a lot more museums and concert venues; on the other hand the number of cinemas has diminished remarkably. The popularity of Estonian Song and Dance festival, that was first held 140 years ago, has somewhat declined, whereas the number of various project-based events has significantly grown. For example, there are many summer theaters and concerts. Thus, the selection of events is especially wide in summer.
The City of Tartu could be called the cultural centre of the district surrounding Via Hanseatica. In Tartu, Estonia's oldest professional theatre Vanemuine stages drama, opera and ballet. In 1869 the first Estonian Song Festival was held in Tartu, starting a tradition of choral song festivals which are now held in Tallinn every 4 years with 15,000-30,000 participants. Today Tartu Song Festival arena hosts various open-air concerts in summer. There are over 30 museums and art galleries in Tartu County, including Tartu City Museum, Tartu Art Museum, Toy Museum, Sport Museum, Post Museum, Aviation Museum, Museum of Agriculture, Old-Believers' Museum of Living History, and others. Student festivals and Hanseatic festivals take place in Tartu regularly. The best known sports event hosted by Tartu County is the Tartu Ski Marathon, which is a member of the Worldloppet series.
In the North-East of Estonia, in Jõhvi, is located the beautiful Jõhvi Concert Hall. The biggest and the newest concert hall in Estonia opened its doors in 2005. It is also the most modern cultural centre in the Eastern part of Estonia. It includes two different halls with a seating capacity of more than 1000 people. There are many events held every week in Jõhvi Concert Hall that all contribute from its excellent acoustics and great atmosphere.
The best way to find out more about different events is to visit Internet sites listing events and venues in Estonia. Many towns, counties and culture venues have their own websites that enable you to find all the necessary information concerning Estonian cultural events.
Culture events info: http://kultuuriinfo.ee/?lng=2
Calendar of culture events: http://www.culture.ee/
Online ticket sales: http://www.piletilevi.ee/?lang=eng
Culture events in Tartu (in Estonian):
Culture events in Tartu (in pdf-format in English):
Links to other Internet sites (in Estonian):
Estonian ancestors worshipped nature. Systematic Christianization began in 13th century whereas predominant was the influence of Western Church and Catholicism. Reformation reached Livonia and Estonia in 1523 and the freedom of belief was established in 1554.
During and after the Livonian war Estonia was under the rule of Russians and Poles, who tried to establish the supremacy of Orthodox Christianity and Catholicism respectively. After Estonia was conquered by Sweden, Lutheranism became the predominant religion. Although Estonians followed the Christian customs, Christianity still remained distant to them and it was never really accepted. Lutheranism remained the predominant religion even after the Great Northern war, when Estonia was once again conquered by the czarist Russia. The influence of Russian Orthodox Church started to grow in the middle of 19th century.
During Estonia's first modern era of sovereignty from 1918 until1940 all religious groups were treated equally. During Soviet time the religious life was very limited and atheist propaganda far-spread. Regaining independence in 1991 brought changes into religious life as well: everyone was granted the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, and no state church was established. The diversity of religious groups is especially characteristic to Estonia. In 2006 there were 9 churches and 9 congregation unions with 529 congregations registered, in addition to that 65 single congregations and 1 convent.
According to the last census of population 32 percent of the people of Estonia consider themselves to be religious, 34 percent claim themselves to be indifferent to religion and 6 percent are atheists. Most of the religious people are Lutherans (13.5 percent) and Orthodox Christians (12.8 percent).
In the district surrounding Via Hanseatica you will find 10 congregations of the Old Believers as well. Nine of them are located near Peipsi and one is situated in Tartu. Officially there are about 5000 Old Believers in Estonia.
FOOD Due to its strategic location, Estonia has been forced to host a number of its more powerful neighbors for centuries. Different rulers from different countries have had a significant influence on our food traditions and culinary art as well. Fast globalization during the last few decades has also left its mark on our food culture.
Still, there are some national dishes that Estonians consider as their very own. According to a survey that was conducted in 2005 ten most typical Estonian food products are black pudding, kama (flour mixture, combined with fresh or sour milk and sugar or salt, added according to taste), rye bread, fresh sprat and Baltic herring, jellied meat, pork, milk, butter, gammon, smoked meat, and blood-mixed dumpling. The participants in the survey voted the most typical dishes to be pea soup with smoked meat, pork roast with sauerkraut and potatoes, sauerkraut soup with pork, meat jelly with potatoes, Mulgi sauerkraut with potatoes, black pudding with lingonberry jam and potatoes, vegetable stew, "Mulgipuder" – southern regional potato porridge, and pickle with sauce and potatoes. Many of the "typical" dishes are closely related to a particular time of the year or a special holiday, for example black pudding is mostly eaten at Christmas and pea soup is very popular on Shrove Tuesday. The influence of foreign food culture and eating habits is growing more and more, including the growing number of fast food restaurants. Even one of the most important national food products – rye bread – is starting to lose its importance.
There are only a few stylish restaurants that serve Estonian food in Estonia. The most remarkable Estonian food restaurant in the Via Hanseatica district is the Barclay Hotel restaurant in Tartu. Pub Rasputin in Tartu represents typical Russian kitchen, the latter is also represented in the Kolkja fish and onion restaurant near lake Peipsi.