Vabamu Museum of Occupation and Freedom collecting Soviet Christmas photos

Vabamu Museum of Occupation and Freedom has started collecting pictures of Christmas during the Soviet era. The aim of this is to find evidence that celebrating Christmas during Soviet times was difficult.

Christmas traditions have changed over time. We know that during the first Republic of Estonia (1918-1940), people went to church. During the Soviet era, Christmas as a reigious holiday was forbidden, but it was still celebrated. The tree was secretly brought in, traditional meals were cooked, Christmas carols were sung or listened to via Voice of America, on the radio. In the relatively newly-independent Estonia, Christmas is honored again, but is arguably no longer a religious holiday but instead a time to get together with the family.

"With the collecting, we are asking people to look through their photos and send us pictures, which would illustrate how different or special the secret Christmas was during the Soviet era. Pictures of special Santas, Christmas trees, games, decorations and so on," director of Vabamu, Keiu Talve, told ERR's culture portal.

Vabamu is collecting the pictures in digital form. It is possible to take a picture of the subject matter with a phone, or make a good-quality copy and scan it, and forward it with a comment here.

The collecting period lasts until December 27, and the museum will post the best photos to its Facebook page.

"As per usual, a photo speaks more than a thousand words and that's why we'll make an exhibition of the photos on our Facebook page, where everyone can see and experience how different or special Christmas was during that time," Telve said.

Those who have not experienced a "Soviet Christmas", but want to know more about it, can come to the tour organized by Vabamu entitled: "How did Christmas traditions survive the Soviet era?". The tour takes place in Tallinn's Old Town. Vabamu offers a similar Christmas program called: "What were the holidays like during the Soviet era?", for school and other groups.


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Editor: Roberta Vaino

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