Independence Day celebrations begin with traditional Toompea flag-raising

Toompea and Pikk Hermann tower, the scene of Sunday morning's independence day flag raising ceremony.
Toompea and Pikk Hermann tower, the scene of Sunday morning's independence day flag raising ceremony. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

Sunday, 24 February is Estonian Independence Day. The day's activities will begin on Sunday morning with the hoisting of the Estonian flag on Toompea Hill, where the flag is raised atop Pikk Hermann tower.

The flag raising ceremony will most likely be attended by President Kersti Kaljulaid, according to a Riigikogu press release. Former Presidents Toomas Hendrik Ilves and Arnold Rüütel have been invited too, it is reported, as well as members of the Riigikogu and the Government, representatives of constitutional institutions and the diplomatic corps, and the Estonian Flag Society, along with the media.

The flag raising takes place at 07.34 EET, sunrise, and is also open to the public. The ceremony takes place in the governor's garden, adjacent to Toompea Castle.

President of the Riigikogu Eiki Nestor (SDE) is to deliver a speech at the ceremony, followed by a blessing by Archbishop of the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church (EELK) Urmas Viilma. Actor Kaspar Velberg, from the Tallinn City Theatre, is due to read out the Estonian Declaration of Independence.

Flag hoisting units from the Women's Home Defence (Naistekodukaitse) and the Defence League (Kaitseliit) are participating in the ceremony, together with their youth equivalents, the Home Daughters (Kodutütred) and the Young Eagles (Noored Kotkad). Representatives from the Scouts, the Guides, various academic organisations, as well as societies, associations and schools will also be present.

Choirs from the Estonian Male Choir Society and the Police and Border Guard (PPA) Orchestra are scheduled to perform "Eesti lipp" ("Flag of Estonia", music by Enn Võrk, words by Martin Lipp), "Hoia, Jumal, Eestit" ("God Save Estonia", music by Juhan Aavik, words by Aleksander Leopold Raudkepp), and other national melodies.

The ceremony will end a little after 08.00, it is reported.

The Estonian flag on the Pikk Hermann tower is hoisted at official sunrise every day, and similarly lowered at sunset.

The date also marks the30th anniversary of the first raising of the blue-black-and-white flag of Estonia on Pikk Hermann to follow the Soviet occupation of Estonia, during the period leading up to full Estonian independence in 1991. The ceremony has remained an annual tradition ever since.

This year marks the 101st anniversary of Estonian independence. Other events on the day include the traditional annual military parade in Freedom Square, Tallinn, and a free concert taking place on Sunday evening at the Theatre Square/Rävala Avenue/Iceland Square intersection in central Tallinn. Other flag raising ceremonies take place across Estonia, including Narva city.

Editor: Andrew Whyte

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