Summary and Reflections of the Worldwide Estonian Societies Festival “Sajaga seltsis” (In Companionship with 100)

August 10, 2018

In 2018, the Republic of Estonia celebrates its 100th birthday and from August 3-4 the Association of Estonian Cultural Societies (EKSÜ) organized a festival “Sajaga seltsis” (In Companionship with 100) to celebrate at the Estonian National Museum in Tartu. The festival brought together cultural people from Latvia, the Suetuk region, Krasnoyarsk region, St. Petersburg, the Crimea, Kiev, London, Toronto, Luxembourg, Melbourne, Portland, Moscow, Minsk, Finland, Tver, and Belarus. Tiit Rosenberg opened the first discussion group “Societies as the Keepers of Estonianness Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow” by giving an overview of Estonian societies throughout Estonian history. Tiina Kirss, Anne-Ly Reimaa, Vera Oinets, and Rein Taagepera also presented on topics about Estonian society activities all over the world.

During the first discussion group the book about the Estonian World Council (ÜEKN) that will be published in September was introduced along with the upcoming ESTO festival taking place in Estonia next year.

In the second discussion group various workshops took place: Preserving the History of Societies (Kärt Summatavet), Collaborations Between Societies (Ants Johanson), Estonianness on This Side and That Side of the Border (Liina Miks), Estonian Cultural Heritage – How Do We Preserve It (Monika Tomingas), Media and Society Activities – How to Get on Screen (Katrin Uuspõld), Funding Society Activities and Society Economic Activities (Kadri Pau). After the workshops concluded, the leaders summarized them. The discussion groups were moderated by Iivi Zajedova from the Czech Estonian Club.

August 4 was the festival party day, which began with the opening of exhibits by the Forest University in Canada and the London Estonian Society at the Estonian National Museum. This was followed by a parade to the museum park where an oak tree was planted in honour of the activities of societies.

Reet Piiri led a presentation of folk costumes. The party square also had a number of workshops, a handicraft sale, and society book stalls. Keepers of the Estonian language and spirit came to perform on the song and dance stage from all over the world: Estonian Folks and the London Estonian Society Folk Dance Group, St. Petersburg folklore group Neevo, Belarus Estonian Society ensemble Vaaks, the folklore group Kaval Käsi (Clever Hand), character dance group Salome, folk dance group Linda, folk song ensemble Liiso, the Rakke Regi song group, ensembles Allikabänd and Lüüra, folk dance group Kajaks with Kupparimuori and accordionist Ants Habakukk. The day was led by Tiina Kosen and Ülle Kool played accordion at the folk party.

Country day took place on August 5, the day when societies from abroad visited our societies. The Muuga MNS Eha hosted the St. Petersburg Estonian Cultural Society (folklore group Neevo) and the Narva-Jõesuu Estonian Society Kalju hosted the Estonian Society Pääsuke (Belarus Estonian Society ensemble Vaaks).

Liina Miks