Estonia launches into its Midsummer holiday weekend
The Estonian Midsummer double-day holiday, Victory Day on Thursday followed by Midsummer Day on Friday, comes right before the weekend this year. Estonians launched into the break stocking up on provisions, building bonfires, and spending their Wednesday afternoon in traffic trying to get out of the city, to their countryside summer homes.
Many, if not most, Estonians consider these two days more important than Christmas, with Victory Day commemorating the victory over the German Landeswehr in 1919, while Midsummer Day marks a widely-celebrated traditional occasion, celebrating the longest day of the year.
Commemorating the Estonian War of Independence
Victory Day (Võidupüha) marks the decisive battle of the Estonian War of Independence, which saw the victory of Estonian and allied forces against the German forces that sought to re-establish their control over the region.
The Estonian War of Independence was fought out by a multi-national force that included 85,500 Estonians, 3,700 Finns, 9,800 Latvians, 3,000 British, 400 Swedes, 250 Danes, and up to 700 Baltic Germans who were Estonian citizens.
June 23 has been celebrated every year in Estonia since 1934, with a break from 1939 to the restoration of Estonian independence in 1992. While it marks the crucial historical battle, the annual parades also commemorates and recognize the contributions of all Estonians in their fight to regain and retain their independence.
This year, the military parade commemorating Victory Day is taking place in Võru, a South Estonian regional capital. 700 members of the Defense League volunteer corps and allied soldiers are participating in the parade.
A U.S. Stryker combat team with seven armored vehicles will also participate in the parade, as well as units from Lithuania, Latvia, and Denmark.