Eesti Elu
Easter weather by the (Good) book
Kultuur 19 Apr 2012  Eesti Elu
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Easter weather in Estonia this year could not have been more by the book. The big, Good book that is. Snow is not appropriate you say? Well, it was definitely hard to find someone who remembered the last snowy liha/võtte/pühad or “meat taking holiday”, referring to the end of fasting for Lent. But it turns out at least the Maritime provinces experienced the same anomaly...

The last day of March was one for finally bringing the bike out of the shed in Tallinn, but on the evening of April 1st it began to snow again in earnest. April 1st is traditionally the day when herds were finally let out to pasture to frolic and play after the long winter (karja/laske/päev). These days most Estonians have removed their studded winter tires by this deadline.

Every single night in April until now has seen temperatures continue to dip below freezing in various corners of Eesti and each morning of the first week was topped with fresh white. No big deal really. We know that Päike (the sun) is king and anything that happens before first light will soon be in jeopardy.

But the weather on Easter weekend was so appropriate according to teachings and traditions we all know so well, it made one ponder whether perhaps such a reminder of kuidas olla (how to behave) was well overdue? Suur reede (“big”, i.e. Good Friday) was gray and gloomy, downright down-and-out sad. Then, as the sun began to set on the day that saw at least two stations of the cross (risti/käigu) processions in Tallinn, the snow started coming down. Quietly, yet persistently. No one imagined quite how persistently, until there was up to 15 cm in some places early on the morning of vaikne laupäev (“quiet”, i.e. Holy Saturday). The day continued pilvine (overcast) with the most delicate (yet persistent) sprinkling of ultra fine snow. No wind to speak of. In fact, it seemed like there was almost no air at all!

Easter eggs should actually be decorated on Easter Sunday, when celebrating is finally in order. We acknowledge our breaking of tradition and protocol by painting and dyeing munad on “quiet” Saturday this year, but we did it as quietly and contemplatively as 2 and 5 year-olds are able. It was only on the way home and due to absolute necessity that snow angels and the humble beginnings of snow-memms were made. As long as children are made aware that certain special days call for special behaviour, little breaks established practice can do doubt be overlooked.

We climbed on the troll (trolley bus), our bags heavy with provisions for many days, including eggs and pasha, a sweet curd cheese Easter dessert originating in Russia. Hostess Maimu, who unfortunately is allergic to kohu/piim (curd or quark cheese) made her's with ricotta cheese this year and added dried jõhvikad (cranberries) instead of the traditional raisins. Nämmi!

And compared to üles/tõusmis/püha, “rising up holiday”, i.e. Easter Sunday, vaikne laupäev really was quiet, in every sense of the word and as felt by every sense. Sunday brought glorious sun on sparkly snow and a mood of infectious joy, complete with church services, eggs, chocolates, talk of salapärased jänku ilmumised (mysterious bunny sightings), munade koksimine (egg-cracking competitions), concerts, lamba/praad (roast lamb) and perhaps the last snow angels and snow-memmed (Estonian older female snow-people) of the season. But maybe not.

The obvious signs and reflections brought on by the weather hopefully did not go unnoticed by many. Perhaps even those who do not discriminate between holidays and tend to think they are created first and foremost as days to shop and/or party. Remember what your vanaema taught you?

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