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Next week to shine the spotlight on national minorities


National Minorities Day is being marked in Estonia next Sunday, 24 September. Estonia is home to more than 190 nationalities, all of whom are torchbearers for their cultural heritage and language. The week will provide plenty of opportunities to discover the culture, handicraft and cuisine of a wide range of nationalities.

The events dedicated to National Minorities Day, which is being marked in Estonia for the 13th time, will take place from 16 September until the end of the month in Tallinn, Jõhvi, Haapsalu and elsewhere in the country. In addition to concerts and exhibitions, the programme includes an entire series of workshops, with something for everyone – from Lezgin dance and traditional Russian ragdolls to Moksha cuisine.

Irene Käosaar, the director of the Integration Foundation, says it is gratifying that so many national minority cultural associations operate actively in Estonia. “The people involved in these associations treasure the traditions of their forefathers,” she explained. “They keep their mother tongues, customs and handicraft skills alive, all of which are being forgotten in the modern world. And I’m sure that those who respect their own culture can only have respect for Estonian customs and culture as well.”

One of the most eagerly awaited events in the programme is the ethnofair and concert being organised by the Alliance of Nationalities of Estonia on Town Hall Square in Tallinn from 10:00-18:00 on 23 & 24 September. The fair will offer traditional food and drinks and handicraft items for sale, while singing groups from national minority cultural associations will be taking to the stage for the concert.

National Minorities Week will culminate on 24 September with the 14th national minority cultural festival ‘National Cultures Creative Pot’ being held at Jõhvi Concert Hall, participating in which will be a number of national associations from Ida-Viru County. During the day, visitors can admire national exhibitions, take part in workshops and enjoy literary get-togethers. Speaking at the ‘Connections between generations ensure the continuation of traditions’ conference starting at midday will be representatives of both the Ministry of Culture and the Integration Foundation as well as special guest Alla Migai from Ukraine, who will be making a presentation entitled ‘The lullaby of the future’. The second half of the day will feature music, singing and dancing. Taking to the stage in the main hall will be Lõõtsavägilased, a fantastic young concertina ensemble from Viljandi County, followed by talented national culture associations, a guest collective from Poland and the Ukrainian dance troupe Czeremosz.

All of the events are free of charge. More detailed information about the events can be found online at

National Minorities Day is marked on 24 September, the anniversary of the first Estonian National Minorities Forum in 1988.

The forum was held that year on 24 September, unanimously declaring its willingness to openly support the attempts of the Estonian population to restore their statehood and democracy.

The first National Minorities Day was held in 2005, when then Minister for Population Affairs Paul-Eerik Rummo decreed that it would be observed each year on that date.