Independence Day in Estonia
Estonia has actually two Independence Days. The first one was on 24th February, when they celebrate the Independence Declaration made in 1918. After the Second World War, though, they were occupied by the Soviet Union and the country was forced into communism. In 1991 when the Soviet Union was crumbling, Estonia declared itself independent again while the Soviet tanks roamed the countryside trying to stifle all hope of becoming independent again and soldiers were trying to take over the TV tower to shut down all communication channels (which obviously was much easier back then). But despite all Soviet soldiers' efforts Estonians stood their ground and on Saturday 20th August they celebrated their 25th year of Independence.
Estonians are quite patriotic, especially when I compare them to their brother nation, Finland. They take their independence seriously and Tallinn was filled with all sorts of concerts and markets and Estonian flags. In Finland people just gather with family and watch the reception at the President's castle. I suspect the lack of enthusiasm in Finland towards independence is because of two reasons: first of all our Independence Day is in December, which ensures that the weather never encourages you to spend any more time outside your home than what you absolutely must. Secondly Finland turns 100 years in 2017 so there are no people alive anymore who would remember how Finland became independent. It's such a far-away event for us and people have become to take independence for granted. It's no big deal, we've always had it. Whereas for Estonians this day 25 years ago is fresh in their memories.
We went to see one of the concerts on the Toompea castle hill. We opted for this particular concert because the bill included one of the most respected rock stars in the world, straight from my Turku, Michael Monroe! At first the idea of a random Finnish rock star appearing in the Estonian Independence Day concert felt a bit curious but actually Estonia has always been like a little brother to us Finns. The language is pretty much the same, the culture very similar and the truth is that Estonia would not have been able to become independent when it did if it wasn't for all the help provided by Finland and Finnish people. In secret of course.
In the concert they showed some short clips from the 1991 and after where they glorified Estonia in the most pompous style. I am a huge fan of marketing yourself, especially the things that you know you are good at, but these super-patriotic clips made me quite uncomfortable. There's a line when putting yourself on a podium is done with good taste and when it goes to embarrassing lengths declaring that we are the center of the universe. Despite the uncomfortable clips the concert was very good and the weather really seemed to love Estonia for a change! But unfortunately for Estonians the best and the most memorable performance was the only Finn. Without Michael Monroe the concert would really have been just a flat pancake. He really got the crowd going with the wild dance moves, energetic songs and climbing the scaffolding holding the stage in one piece. I think he also destroyed about three mikes :D Amazing performer, absolutely fabulous!
I thought, knowing how patriotic Estonians are, that there would be parties all around Tallinn all day and night long. But no. It seemed that Estonians did the Finns and withdrew themselves home after the concerts, so in the evening the city was crowded only by tourists. A bit of a let-down. But at least it was a very nice Saturday and what made me especially happy was the sunshine and warmth. There is still hope with summer.