Tuesday, July 7, 2009
This is an amazing event that takes place every 5 years in Tallinn, Estonia. Consisting of about 30,000 singers and at least 200,000 audience members, this song festival is one of the largest in the world.
Throughout Estonia's nearly 50-year occupation, Estonia’s national identity was entirely suppressed: it was even illegal to own an Estonian flag, Russian became the country’s official language, resistors were sent to Siberia. Endurance, patience, and hope were all Estonias had while their customs and traditions had been taken away from them.
However, the Estonians were allowed to maintain the tradition of their song festival, Laulupidu – which, since 1869, had attracted up to 30,000 participants every five years.
The song, had become the link to the country’s national heritage, and acted as a beacon of hope for the restoration of its independence.
I was able to experience this last weekend with my sister and our dear family friends from Toronto. Kaja and I had watched the "Singing Revolution", a documentary of the song festival, a few nights before the big weekend. Wow... rent it!!! It was great to get that kind of history lesson and actually be in the thick of all the Esto-pride and celebration.
My favorite part of the festival was walking alongside the parade towards the festival grounds. I had been sick during the day, so I stayed behind at our hostel while my travelling mates had gone ahead to see the beginnings of the parade. I pushed myself out of bed and made my way to the town centre. There the parade was STILL going on (after 4 hours), the 30,000 choral singers paraded their way to the Laulupidu. And I got to see the tail end of it. I walked with the beautiful Estos in Rahvariided (traditional Estonian dress) while they cheered and sang. It was one of the most beautiful things I've ever experienced.
I spent about 2 hours sitting and waiting under a tree along with a few other thousand people doing the same thing probably, waiting and looking for their friends or family that were supposed to "meet near the thingy, the statue thing...". Amazingly though, I spotted Kaja a few metres away and soon enough, we were all sitting under the big tree, safe from the pouring rain and drinking Saku beer in our blue, black and white.
I had seen the Laulupidu 5 years ago when I was Kaja's age, but I neither fully understood the importance behind it, nor appreciated the feeling of hearing 30,000 people singing all at once, like I did this time around.
I'll be back in another 5 years, but next time, I'll be one of those 30,000.
- Barcelona, Catalunya, Spain
- No, I didn't come to Barcelona because of THAT movie. (although it did fuel my obsession with this city, slightly). First time living away from home, away from Canada... Thinking it's gonna be an adventure. I want to share my ups and downs with you during my European get away, so enjoy. :)