Ghost stories researcher: Ghosts foreign to Estonians

Kristi Paatsi and Liis Järv.
Kristi Paatsi and Liis Järv. Source: Kairit Leibold/ERR

The "Hommik Anuga" morning show hosted Kristi Paatsi, manager of the Kalamaja Museum, and Liis Järv, chief treasurer of the Tartu Toy Museum, who talked to host Anu Välba about ghosts.

Both Järv and Paatsi organize ghost tours. The women said that they do not research ghosts as much as ghost stories. "It is fun these stories are being told and have happened. We can pass them forward," Paatsi said.

The experts urged people to be skeptical of ghost videos as modern technology makes it possible to produce more or less anything.

Kristi Paatsi said that the Tallinn Old Town is considered one of the most haunted places in Estonia where specters usually appear as gorgeous women or monks. "Those are the two most common types." Liis Järve said that the Toomemägi is the center of ghost stories in Tartu with most documented cases.

She gave an example of the summer of 1926 when a couple was walking on Toomemägi. It was customary for a band to be playing there in summertime and the young man and woman decided to sit down on a park bench and enjoy the day. At one point, a respectable-looking gentlemen sat down beside them. "Everything was nice and calm until a pistol shot suddenly rang out," Järv said. The couple notified the police and saw the body taken away. A few weeks later, they saw a familiar-looking gentleman on Toomemägi. Järv said that the story is likely about the ghost of a person who committed suicide and could no longer leave the site. "He became stuck between the worlds of the living and the dead," Järv explained, adding that the gentleman also continued to haunt the couple.

Many cultures have the idea that if you dream about a dead person and they invite you to go with them, you should absolutely refuse. "It is like stretching your arm out to welcome death," Järv said, adding that people believe doing so could result in illness or death.

In addition to studying ghost stories, the women also collect people's experiences with ghosts. Liis Järv used to collect ghost stories from Tartu pubs. She said that patrons of the pub Krooks said that one should never allow oneself to be startled or suddenly turn around when one is tapped on the shoulder from behind. "Should it turn out the tapping was done by a young man wearing green trousers, it is death's driver who will tell you that you have a year left to live."

Tallinn Old Town ghost stories stem from the middle ages. Kristi Paatsi told the story of a woman who used to live on Kuninga street. She often woken up at night to find an old woman standing before her. She finally told her landlord and learned there is a walled off staircase where the specter appears and that she is likely a former maid.

Paatsi and Järve said that ghosts tend to be foreign to Estonians for the most part, and that visitants are a more common manifestation in folklore. Ghosts reached Estonia from the culture of the Baltic Germans.


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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