On Wednesday morning, with blue, black and white flags flying all around, the spirit of Estonian Independence Day was certainly in the air at Tartu Market Hall. According to those shopping for festive foods, despite the challenging economic times, there is little chance of anyone holding back when it comes to the celebrations.
At Tartu Market Hall, preparations for Estonian Independence Day (February 24) are in full swing. Tables across Estonia will be filled with traditional food as people gather to mark the occasion.
According to Natalja, a butcher at the market hall, people are busy getting all the things they need for February 24, and the continuing popularity of traditional Estonian food is clear for all to see.
Despite recent increases in the cost of pork, Natalja said, that the appetite for Estonia's most popular meat has certainly not been diminished.
"We sell pork and how can you have an Estonian table without pork? It's still the favorite food of the Estonian people," she said.
Natalja also pointed out, that this year the market hall has had even more visitors in the run-up to Independence day due to its participation in the "Flavors of Estonia" (Eesti Maitsed) initiative, which showcases the country's best foods.
In addition to that, Natalja said, people are still coming to get the foods they need for their Independence Day gatherings.
"For example, today there was a buyer who said that for the celebration, they will have a total of 17 people getting together, including children. They always fill the table with all the foods they like. Maybe that means having pâté and roast pork on the table. It's just like Christmas," Natalja explained.
People shopping at the market also said, that despite the challenging times, there is no chance they will be holding back when it comes to food on Independence Day.
"On the day of a celebration, I think you have to have the things that belong on the festive table. I've lived in Finland for many years and I really like Estonian food," said Milla.
"I definitely don't hold back when it comes to these kinds of celebrations. I travelled from Elva to Tartu especially to buy the best things from the market hall," said Alvar.
Maris Kottisse, assistant manager of Tartu Market, said that, in the run-up to Independence Day, the market hall is busier than usual. However, all the vendors are well prepared .
"Our fish hall is full of Estonian fish. Estonians love fish, and you can really see how crowded the market hall gets just before the national holidays," she said.
Editor: Michael Cole