While the University of Tartu in its earliest form was first established in 1632, Estonian did not become the university's official language of instruction until Dec. 1, 1919. This year, Estonia's national university is celebrating the centennial of this milestone, with the jubilee culminating in two days of celebrations on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1.
One of the most visible traditional events marking the anniversary is a torchlight procession through town involving dozens of student organizations and hundreds of students and alumni.
This year, the procession was immediately followed by a light show, titled "The Spirit of Tartu," which was projected on the ruins of Tartu Cathedral on Toomemägi.
Another major tradition is the university ball, which for the first time was held at the Estonian National Museum (ERM) this year. A total of 1,500 tickets were sold to the event.
The evening featured performances by actors and musicians Adeele Jaago, Kaarel Targo, Jaanus Tepomees, Lauri Liiv and Sofia Rubina, Jarek Kasar and Tõnis Mägi as well as the Tartu University Symphony Orchestra, the University of Tartu Chamber Choir as well as university folk dancers.
Fourth language of instruction
First established as Academia Gustaviana by King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden in 1632, the University of Tartu saw three different languages of instruction — Latin, German and Russian — across the following three centuries before being officially established as the Estonian-language national university of the Republic of Estonia in December 1919, nearly two years after the country had declared its independence.
The anniversary of the historic changeover is marked in modern times with a ceremonial assembly, which includes the conferring of doctorate and honorary doctorate degrees as well as the awarding of the UT Award for Contribution to the Estonian National Identity, an award granted in recognition of individuals for their outstanding achievements in promoting the national cultural identity of Estonia.
A total of 138 people are to be conferred doctoral degrees and four people honorary doctorates at this year's assembly on Sunday.
TalTech flash mob
Tallinn University of Technology (TalTech) congratulated the University of Tartu on the occasion with a flash mob of choir singers and folk dancers performing Rene Eespere's "Ärkamise aeg" at Tallinn's busy Viru keskus shopping center.
Click here for more information regarding events celebrating the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the Estonian-language university.
Editor: Aili Vahtla