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Churches in Estonia full on Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve at the Viljandi St. John's Church.
Christmas Eve at the Viljandi St. John's Church. Source: ERR

Christmas services were held in all Estonian churches on Christmas Eve, while some also hosted concerts.

It happened this year that the Fourth Sunday of Advent and Christmas Eve coincided, which saw some churches hold two services.

Estonians seem to have faith around Christmas as the churches are always full on Christmas Eve and also welcome people who do not go to church at other times. The message of love and hope reached people through the Christmas gospel.

Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church (EELK) Archbishop Urmas Viilma talked about peace during a sermon held at the Viljandi St. John's Church. While we cherish Christmas peace, wars continue to rage elsewhere in the world. But peace can start at home, for there to be less tension and violence.

ETV carried the sermon live from the Viljandi church where Christmas was celebrated 800 years ago. The historical building has been repeatedly damaged in wars and rebuilt again. In 1950, the church was closed and turned into a goods warehouse. It was reopened as a house of God in the early 1990s and Christmas service held there again for the first time in decades.

Many Estonian congregations had to start again after Estonia regained its independence. The first radio broadcast of a Christmas Eve service aired on December 24 35 years ago from the St. Mary's Cathedral in Tallinn. Television broadcasts started a year later.

Viljandi St. John's Church. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

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Editor: Marko Tooming, Marcus Turovski

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