Estonia’s centennial year 2018 Estonian Life (4)
Teadaanded 26 Jan 2018 EL (Estonian Life)Eesti Elu
Estonia’s centennial year 2018 has arrived
and preparations for the February 24th
celebrations at Nathan Phillips Square
and Sheraton Centre are gathering speed…

On February 24th, 1918, when Estonia issued its Declaration of Independence on Freedom Square (Vabaduse väljak) in Tallinn, Estonians waving the blue-black-white national flag, gathered on the Square to celebrate the most significant decision in Estonia’s history. Who could have predicted that exactly 100 years later, on February 24th, 2018, Estonians, waving the blue-black white tricolor, would be gathering on another square thousands of miles away, on Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto, to acknowledge and celebrate the decision made by their forefathers one hundred years ago.

It’s probably fair to say that Estonians are a pretty hardy lot by nature so it is unlikely that a little cold weather will deter anyone from attending the flag-raising ceremony at City Hall Square on February 24th. However, the good news is that, according to long-range weather forecasts, the record-breaking cold streak is over. and in February we will be experiencing more seasonal temperatures hovering around the zero degree mark.

Despite the comparatively “balmy” weather predictions, bundling up warmly on February 24th is recommended so that the slightly more elaborate than usual flag-raising ceremony can be enjoyed in as much comfort as possible. Gathering begins at the stage area of the Square at 10:00 AM, ceremony start-time is 10:30 AM and at approximately 11:00 – 11:15, everyone (whether registered for the luncheon or not) is invited to join in the short PARADE WITH FLAGS across the road to the Sheraton Centre. Those attending the Gala Luncheon can expect to be seated in the Osgoode Ballroom by noon in time for the opening remarks shortly thereafter.

On the big day, SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 24th 2018, the giant TORONTO sign will be ablaze in blue-black and white from 9 AM that morning until 9 AM on Sunday morning. On the 24th we want to be VISIBLE to the public and particularly to the media. For visibility purposes, numbers count so the hope is that the community will attend the flag-raising/flag-waving ceremony en mass. Organizations are reminded to bring their flags to the flag-raising and, after the parade, to the Osgoode Ballroom, where the flags will be placed on display during the luncheon. And the more Estonian flags, the better!

The organizing committee has been working hard to accommodate everyone who has expressed a wish
to attend the Gala Luncheon at the Sheraton Centre. Please note - SOME SEATING IS STILL AVAILABLE! For further information about registering for the luncheon, please contact Helle, 647-994-4209. Helle also needs to be made aware of any food allergies and food restrictions. Furthermore, information about seating at the luncheon ie table numbers will be provided by e-mail or telephone to everyone in advance of the event and this information will, of course, be available on site as well.

What to wear to the Gala Luncheon? FOLK COSTUMES, stylized versions of such, accessorizing with folk dress elements or improvising with the blue-black-white colours are suitable possibilities for adults and children alike and would definitely add a festive look and feel to the occasion.

Our forefathers who drafted the “Manifesto to the Peoples of Estonia (Manifest Eestimaa rahvastele) and declared Estonia to be an independent nation on February 24th, 1918 have long since departed from this world. However, incredibly, we still have among us Estonian citizens who were witnesses to the birth of Estonia, witnesses who have no recollection of the event, because they were infants or toddlers, but witnesses nevertheless.

It is not known how many such witnesses there might be in Eesti or around the world but in Toronto, among Ehatare’s population alone, there are about ten residents whose birth preceded Estonia’s birth. As recently as December 18, 2017, GURI RAAG, the only graduate of Tondi Sõjakool still with us today, joined this select group of Estonian centenarians. And on February 24th of this year, Eesti Vabariik will finally catch up with another Ehatare resident, renown composer, choir conductor and organist ROMAN TOI, who made his way into this world on June 18, 1916, fully one year and 8 months before the birth of his homeland.

Estonians everywhere, no matter when or where they were born are ready, willing and eager to celebrate Estonia's 100th anniversary as a free, independent and democratic nation.

EL on behalf of the Toronto Eesti Seltsi EV100 juubelikomitee
Photo caption: Roman Toi celebrated his 100th birthday on June 18, 2016 and is ready to celebrate EV100 on February 24, 2018