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September shines the spotlight on national minorities

September is National Minorities Month in Estonia, encouraging people to acknowledge the many and varied ethnic backgrounds that are represented in the country. Estonia is home to people of 194 nationalities, making the month the perfect opportunity to discover their cultures, handicrafts and cuisines.


The month is jam-packed with events showcasing minority culture in Tallinn, Jõhvi, Pärnu, Haapsalu and elsewhere. In addition to concerts and exhibitions there will be a wide range of workshops – anyone wishing to can try their hand at making Turkish coffee and Udmurt cuisine, learning Lezgin dances or fashioning traditional Russian rag dolls.

Irene Käosaar, the director of the Integration Foundation, says that more than 300 cultural associations and 30 Sunday schools of different nationalities operate in Estonia, keeping their mother tongues, customs and handicraft skills alive. “The people from these associations who hold the traditions of their own forefathers so dear also have a lot of respect for Estonian customs and culture,” she added.

The biggest national groups in the country besides Estonians themselves are Russians, Ukrainians, Belarusians and Finns. Large numbers of Tatars, Jews, Lithuanians, Poles, Germans and Armenians also reside in Estonia. According to the most recent census, the numbers of Ukrainian, Georgian, Azeri, Swedish, British, American, Italian, French, Dutch and Chinese people living in the country have all inc

“Estonia’s greatest assets are its people, its diverse cultural heritage and its traditions,” said Piret Hartman, Deputy Secretary General for Cultural Diversity with the Estonian Ministry of Culture. “The more we recognise that fact, the more we value those assets, strive to preserve them, and foster contact between us, the stronger and happier we’ll be as a society.”

«With 2018 being European Year of Cultural Heritage, the spotlight is being shone on the rich and diverse history of culture all over the continent. September has therefore been designated National Minorities Month in Estonia,“ said Annela Laaneots, the project manager for Estonia for the European Year of Cultural Heritage and the Head of Information with the Estonian Folklore Council.

One of the most eagerly awaited events of National Minorities Month is the ethnofair and concert being organised by the Estonian Union of National Minorities on Town Hall Square in Tallinn from 10:00-18:00 on 22 & 23 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.


The 15th national minority cultural festival ‘National Cultures Creative Pot’ will also be taking place on that weekend, at Jõhvi Concert Hall on 23 September, involving associations from Ida-Viru County. This year the organisers have added national cuisine to the festival menu, with those arriving early being treated to a buffet of special dishes. A commemorative postage stamp is being issued to mark the 15th anniversary of the festival. In workshops, visitors will be able to learn how to embroider the way the Tartars do, make dolls and add images to ceramics. There will also be a mini-song festival led by folk musicians. The colourful day will end with the cutting and sharing of the festival’s birthday cake.

Most of the events are free of charge.
More detailed information about the events can be found online HERE