First advent candles mark start of festive season in Estonia

Mayor of Tallinn Mihhail Kõlvart and EELK Provost of Tallinn Jaan Tamsalu lighting the first candle of advent.
Mayor of Tallinn Mihhail Kõlvart and EELK Provost of Tallinn Jaan Tamsalu lighting the first candle of advent. Source: ERR

The weekend saw the heralding of the start of advent in Estonia, with candle-lighting ceremonies in many towns across the country.

Somewhat giving the lie to the oft-repeated claim that Estonia is the least religious place on the face of the planet, the gatherings brought the usual blend of Christian and pre-Christian traditions that the festive season specializes in in northern Europe, with the recent snowfall adding to the frisson.

In the capital, Mayor Mihhail Kõlvart was joined by Provost of Tallinn Jaan Tammsalu of the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church (EELK), to light the first advent candle on the Christmas tree placed in Town Hall Square.

The tree itself, taken from the village of Mustjõe, around 50km from the capital, arrived on November 17, and the traditional Christmas market opened on Friday.

In Tartu, the arrival of the festive season was marked with the first advent candle lighting at 5 p.m. on the Sunday, with the city's mayor, Urmas Klaas (Reform), the Dean of Tartu and EELK Pastor of Peetri parish Ants Tooming, and Anzelika Gomozova, representative of the Seto people of southeastern Estonia.

Tartu's Christmas village. Source: ERR

The Christmas market is open in Estonia's second city too, though the annual ice rink's opening has been delayed due to a techinical matter, expected to be resolved this week.

Tartu's Christmas program is here.

Meanwhile in the western city of Haapsalu, the advent candle was lit on the Saturday, while the flame was also passed around townspeople to light their own candles with, if they so desired, while the town's mayor, Urmas Sukles was also present.

Lighting of advent candles in Haapsalu, November 26, 2022. Source: ERR

Lutheran Bishop Tiit Salumäe told ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" that this was the case: "Especially at this time, when so many people have worries and questions; light is needed, and it is light that pushes the darkness away."

Entertainment was also provided by local "Santas" and the lights on the town's Christmas tree were switched on.

The walls of the local Episcopal Castle also hosted a light show.


Follow ERR News on Facebook and Twitter and never miss an update!

Editor: Andrew Whyte

Hea lugeja, näeme et kasutate vanemat brauseri versiooni või vähelevinud brauserit.

Parema ja terviklikuma kasutajakogemuse tagamiseks soovitame alla laadida uusim versioon mõnest meie toetatud brauserist: