Seedrioru Suvihari 2009 has come and is now gone.
Attendance this year was down noticeably. Whether this was caused by people leaving early to go to the song festival in Estonia or simply growing apathy and the demographics of an aging society is not clear.
Anyway, apparently because of the upcoming song festival, Suvihari was unavoidably held a week early this year, on a date that coincided with the anniversary of the first mass deportations under inhumane conditions of people of the Baltic States by the newly installed Soviet puppet governments in those countries.
This was part of something that was called “the class struggle” by Marxists. In practice, this meant that that the top ten percent of the population had to be liquidated in one way or another to ensure that there would be no effective resistance to the implementation of totalitarian Soviet power. The memory of this horrific event put somewhat of a damper on what we usually regard as being a time of happiness celebrating the arrival of summer and the anniversary of what Estonians refer to as “Victory Day” commemorating the battle when the hated German overlords were finally defeated and Estonia regained its independence after 700 years of foreign occupation. Seedrioru’s nice new flags were to fly at half mast on Sunday.
Suvihari followed the usual well established agenda. The main events included a formal Aktus ceremony and the lighting of the victory flame, a choir concert in the open air theatre, a St. John’s Day bonfire with sing-along and last a dance in the main hall.
This was also the 50th anniversary of the erection of the Seedrioru monument an event I remember well. I found that the Aktus lasted longer than usual and parts of it to my mind anyway could be been shortened. In particular, it seems that some Estonian men of the cloth have difficulty understanding that Suvihari is intended to be primarily a secular event, not an outdoor church service. I recall that at the last Aktus, also not particularly well attended, a prescient preacher delivered what I thought to be an excellent speech - not a sermon, during which he said that our émigré society is in the process of change (ülemineku etapp) and language and other issues would have to take cognizance of this. Unfortunately, the message seems not to have seeped through to everyone. I found it was unpleasant to either broil in the sun or be eaten alive by mosquitoes for an extended period, but others, particularly of the older generation may not agree with me. In future, unless there are changes, I think I will just skip the Aktus part of Suvihari.
Suvihari had its nice moments as well. A few weeks ago I noticed a death notice in the paper which had the name of one of my late father’s friends from our Hamilton days. It was a rather common name, the Estonian equivalent of “Smith”. I spotted his wife some ways off and went over to offer my condolences. Just before I got there, the man she was with turned around and it was her husband Heino. It turned out that there were at least 3 other people with his name that he was aware of. One of these people even cost him some money when he immigrated to Canada. Somehow a bureaucratic error had credited his Canadian entry fee amounting to several hundred dollars to another man with the same name so he had to pay his entry fee twice. He never found out who got the “freebee”.
Late middle age is definitely the pits. With most retired accountants it’s the eyes that go. With me it’s my knees and this was the first time I broke down and slept in a nice B&B in Elora rather than cramped up in a tent, even though Seedrioru has been remarkably quiet late at night after “Mrs. Seedrioru”, also known as Ene Rebane Billings hired the OPP as security a few years back.
I found the climb back up to the main hall quite strenuous and while I was sitting at one of the tables feeling sorry for myself I spotted Rutt Voltre Veskimets, who I remember from my camp days as being at least a couple of years older than me, charging up the steepest part of the hill. When she got to the top she wasn’t even out of breath. Those Estonian women are tough!
Anyway, thank you Seedrioru people for looking after Seedrioru and for all the hard work you did organizing yet another well run Suvihari.
Wish everyone a good summer and hope to see you again next year.
Seedrioru Suvihari 2009 (8)