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tiistai 26. tammikuuta 2016

Estonia, Cool Facts #95

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1. Estonian Flag Origins 

The Estonian Song Festival had a very important part in the Estonian national awakening in the 1800s. The first song festival was held in 1869 and the artist Johann Kölerit introduced the Estonian colors in his performances.

These colors spread as the national colors to the whole country and they were already displayed prominently in the second song festival in 1879. In 1884 the Estonian Students' Society (Eesti Üliöpilaste Selts) took the blue-black-white tricolor as their symbol of the national liberation in Tartu.

When the flag was raised the first time, Russian gendarmes immediately destroyed it. In the 1894 song festival the flag broke through the censorship finally.

Estonian Song Festival
2. Danish Estonia

Denmark was a great military and mercantile power in the 12th century and it wanted to end the Estonian Viking attacks, that threatened Danish trade in the Baltic. In 1219 Estonians were defeated in the Battle of Lyndanisse and the Danes established the city of Tallinn, which was known as Reval until the year 1918. 

After the battle northern Estonia became a Danish region until the Estonian uprising in 1343, when Estonia was taken over by the German Teutonic Order. Later the Bishop of Ösel-Wiek sold his lands to the king of Denmark in 1559, during the Livonian war. 

The king gave the territory to his brother Magnus who landed in Saaremaa in 1560 and by 1573 the whole Saaremaa had become a Danish possession. In 1645 Saaremaa was transferred to Sweden. 

3. First Independence 

Estonia was independent between 1920-1940, so it got independence after the first world war but lost it in the beginning of the second world war.

 In 1917 Russia was in chaos after the February Revolution, Estonia had gained autonomy and in 1918 the Bolsheviks rose in power in Russia and the same year Estonia declared independence. 

German troops occupied the country but after they left the Soviet troops attacked the Baltic countries and the Estonia fought for 14 months before it became independent on February 2 in 1920. 

Later the Baltic countries lost their independence in the second world war when Stalin's Soviet Union and Hitler's Germany divided Europe with each and the Baltic countries being in the Soviet Union's spheres of interest. 

The Soviet annexation of Estonia was expressed as being illegal by many countries who didn't recognize the Estonian SSR

First celebration of the Estonian independence

4. Kiiking 

Kiiking is a sport invented in Estonia by Ado Kosk in 1996. Kiik means a swing in Estonian and in kiiking the aim is to swing 360 degrees going over the fulcrum of the swing. The longer the swing arms are, the harder it is to complete the 360 degrees. The current world record is 7.03 meters. 

Kiiking swing

5. Tharapita 

Estonia is one of the least religious countries in the world. Tharapita or Taara is the deity on which the old Estonian pagan religion is centered. The people in Saaremaa and northern Estonia practiced the Tharapita religion during the Viking Age.

According to the legend Tharapita was born on a forested mountain in Virumaa from where he flew to Saaremaa. The story has been associated with a major meteor disaster that happened in the 600s or 700s causing the Kaali crater in Saaremaa.

Later in the 1800s the Tharapita religion became popular in the national movement as an anti-German and anti-Lutheran symbol. The second-biggest city, Tartu, was even poetically called Taaralinn since that period, meaning the city of Taara.

The Jumiois, symbol of Taaraism and Maausk


98 Roman historian Tacitus describes the Aesti tribe living in the current Estonia
1187 Oeselian pirates sacked the Swedish town of Sigtuna
1207 Terra Mariana established as a principality of the Holy Roman Empire, rules parts of Estonia
1219 Reval (current Tallinn) was founded as the capital of Danish Estonia
1248 Tallinn joins the Hanseatic League
1343 Estonian people revolted and tried to get rid of their Danish and German rulers and landlords, the revolt was ended by the invasion of the Teutonic Order
1346 Denmark sold Estonia to the Teutonic Order for 19,000 Köln marks
1559 The Bishop of Ösel-Wiek sold his lands to King Frederick II of Denmark for 30,000 whalers
1561 During the Livonian War northern Estonian submitted to Swedish control
1629 The complete mainland Estonia came under Swedish rule
1659 A plague stopped the population growth
1695-1697 Almost 20% of the population died during the Great Famine
1700-1721 Great Northern War
1721 The Swedish Empire lost Estonia to Russia after the war by Treaty of Nystad
1816 Serfdom was abolished in Estonia and in 1819 in Livonia
1862 Publication of the national epic, Kalevipoeg, was a big accomplishment for the Estonian nationalism
1869 First Estonian song festival 
1884 Tartu University adopted the blue-black-white tricolor as their symbol of the national freedom, the Russian gendarmes went to destroy the flag immediately
1905 Uprising in Estonia resisting both the Russians and the Germans
1918 Estonia declares independence, after the German occupiers leave the Russian Bolshevik army tries to occupy Estonia starting the 14-month Estonian War of Independence
1920 Estonian War of Independence ends in the Tartu Peace Treaty 
1934 Prime minister Konstantin Päts declared martial law, disbanded the parliament and ruled autocratically until 1940
1940 Estonia invaded by Soviet troops and annexed the country as Estonian SSR to the Soviet Union
1941 Germany occupied Estonia during its attack to the Soviet Union
1944 After the German loss the Red Army returned Soviet rule and over 60,000 Estonians fleed to the west
1953 Estonian SSR gets its own Soviet flag
1988 The use of the old flag is allowed again
1991 Estonian restores its independence as the Soviet Union fell
2004 Estonia joins both Nato and EU

"Maailman maat liput ja historia" by Kimmo Kiljunen 

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