It used to be that when you saw this kind of orange paper Christmas star (jõulutäht) in the window of a Toronto home, you could be pretty certain Estonian was spoken inside. Birches (kased), a mountain ash (pihlakas) or juniper bushes (kadakad) growing in the front yard were other hints.
The star itself is a Swedish tradition and in most cases, was brought to Canada by families who had fled to Sweden in 1944. Old world candle-shaped Christmas tree lights often came along for the trans-Atlantic ride as well, not to mention the dented metal decilitre measure with which my Memm and I made holiday yummies.
It was only a matter of time before the stars began to succumb to fatigue in their new homeland and so I was very happy to find a new one at the Swedish Women’s Association’s Christmas Fair at Harbourfront some years back. It’s now hanging in my window in Tallinn, where it seems to be one of a kind.
Electric advent candles and golden metallic, as well as locally made wooden stars glow in people’s windows here. Elegant, plain white paper versions and colourful robust stars with cut-out designs (giving them an exotic, almost Middle-Eastern feel) have become all the rage in Sweden. But the old orange is a classic, a commemoration of sorts, now that so many Estonians of my grandparents’ generation, along with their unique, slowly fading stars and juniper bushes are gone.
Armsat meenutamisaega! Joyful reminiscing!
A unique kind of Toronto-Estonian classic (5)