Former Peasant Language Celebrated at Schools Around the World ({{commentsTotal}})

Kristjan Jaak Peterson, immortalized in bronze on Tartu's Toomemägi
Kristjan Jaak Peterson, immortalized in bronze on Tartu's Toomemägi Source: Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Mother Tongue Day is being celebrated today not only at home but everywhere Estonian is spoken.

In Riga, students studying Estonian at the University of Latvia will read poetry at the city's monument to Kristjan Jaak Peterson, the Keats contemporary who laid a foundation for Estonian poetry before his death in his early twenties. Mother Tongue Day was chosen to coincide with his birthday.

In Riga's Estonian Basic School, the celebration took place last week.

In Helsinki, the day will begin with a visit to Latokartano Basic School, which will be given a gift of books by the Estonian Institute, the Estonian embassy and the Tuglas Society.

A traditional seminar will be held in the evening at the Estonian House. It is open to all interested parents and teachers.

Just a hop across the current border in the southeast in Pechory, the day is being marked with performances of Estonian and Seto language songs for the 13th time. The performers this year are from the Estonian National Museum.

The ten Estonian schools in Europe (in the Netherlands, Hamburg, Munich, Copenhagen, London, Dublin, Berlin, Frankfurt, Strasbourg, Cologne) held their main assembly in joint fashion, from March 2 to 4 in Gouda, the Netherlands.

Estonian language teachers at universities where the language is taught have also held various events.

Estonian is spoken as a native language by roughly 1.1 million people, of whom 150,000 reside outside Estonia. There are over 50 centers that teach the language outside of Estonia, and teachers seconded from Estonia are employed in Riga, Pechory, Upper Suetuk (an Estonian village in Siberia) and Aleksandrovka in Crimea.

Ten universities around the world staff teachers seconded from Estonia, while more than 30 universities offer the language at one level or another.

Kristopher Rikken

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