U.S. Embassy, Tallinn, March 14, 2012
Anyone who has ever attempted to learn Estonian knows what a beautiful, but extremely challenging, language it is. Estonians too deeply value their mother tongue, and mark March 14th, the birthday of Kristjan Jaak Peterson, as Emakeelepäev, or Estonian Language Day.
Although he died in 1822 at the very young age of 21, Peterson is considered the father of Estonian literature and poetry. His embracing of his Estonian ethnicity and heritage during his time at Tartu University, then a German-speaking institution, is considered by many to have been the spark that ignited the Estonian National Awakening. Although he passed away before the publication of his two books of poetry; Peterson’s contributions to the Estonian national and cultural identity are immortal.
Today, thanks in no small part to Peterson, the Estonian language is alive not only in Estonia, but in Estonian diaspora communities around the world.
Among these thriving communities are sizable populations of Estonians in Los Angeles, New York and Baltimore. In each of these places, Estonian Houses and Societies help ensure that Estonia's unique language and culture is not lost among ethnic Estonians abroad and that they and their children maintain their linguistic heritage.
Honoring the Estonian Language (1)