Open Air Museum celebrates Shrove Tuesday

Shrovetide celebrations in the Tallinn Open Air Museum.
Shrovetide celebrations in the Tallinn Open Air Museum. Source: ERR

Shrovetide Tuesday, one of the most popular holidays of the folk calendar, was celebrated in the Estonian Open Air Museum in Tallinn on Sunday.

The Open Air Museum's webpage was festive on Sunday morning, calling on people to not stay cooped up in their homes for Shrovetide celebrations, but rather go sledding, sledging and to have traditional Shrovetide foods - pea soup and buns topped with whipped cream (in Estonian: Vastlakukkel).

Shrove Tuesday has always been a women's holiday and women were not allowed to work and were instead pushed to take part in different exciting challenges. Often, women just spent the day in the local tavern, according to the museum.

"Even old girls, while they could not visit, could court on that day and rejecting them was forbidden. The man had to take the old girls as their wife," said Merike Puura, project head for the museum.

On Shrove Tuesday, women combed their hair and that of horses so hair would grow long and thick. Many beauty procedures were also taken up during Shrovetide celebrations, but modern knowledge shows that treating pimples with gasoline is not quite effective, for example.

In addition, women braided different patterns into their hair and soaked their hair in an onion stew. Charcoal and vaseline was often used as mascara and vinegar was used for freckles and dandruff.

"There was a nice saying about that - men love blondes, but marry brunettes. Meaning those who tried hard to bleach themselves - hair and else - went through some things," said Ülla Veerg, a volunteer at the festivities.

All the Open Air Museum's activities for Shrove Tuesday on Sunday were held outdoors to help alleviate any issues regarding the coronavirus' spread.

Many of the Shrovetide celebrations and traditions have remained in the hearts of Estonians to this day, the most popular one being sledding. While a long slide back in the day meant getting long linen in the warmer months, Shrovetide experts say it could mean having good luck when it comes to your bank account nowadays.


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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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