Customs and traditions
Native languages and the motherland are important identity creation concepts for the Estonian majority population, which account for almost 70 percent of the population. According to Abbreviationfinder, Estonian identity has strong roots in the values of the old peasant society, which are symbolized by unspoilt nature and rustic rural culture. Folk costumes, folk songs and oral traditions are popular.
Estonian identity is fueled by a strong awareness of history and struggle for the nation’s survival against foreign occupiers. Therefore, Esther expects foreigners to show respect for their historical struggle and their achievement in breaking out of the Soviet Union (1991).
- Countryaah: Overview of the capital city of Estonia, including information about its population, economy, geography, history and map.
Esther appears rational, without emotional overtones. They are usually well educated, skilled and hard working and want recognition for their ability and work ethic. They appreciate if the visitor shares their passion for music, choirs and song festivals. They value their good reputation and really don’t want to be criticized in public. Punctuality is a virtue.
Know and label
When an est meet someone stands up, seeks eye contact and gives a friendly but determined handshake. It is nice to be healthy while sitting. The most common greeting in Estonian is the informal “tere” (hello). However, the titles are used for men for men, for women and for women. You use your first name only when you have been asked to do so. Businessmen are addressed with professional titles and surnames. If someone does not have a professional title, Mr and Mrs are used.
Esther is frugal with compliments and suspicious of flattery. Passive silence is part of the way of communication. It is rejected when people talk in mouth to each other or when someone interrupts the speaker. Big words and cheeky gestures are not common. Low call tone is appreciated.
Even though they are direct in their communication, ester can sometimes renounce taking into account everyone involved. They do not always respond directly to what is being said but take time to reflect. Critical listening is common and can be followed by a natural cynicism, but courtesy is important.
Esther usually wants body space and avoids close contact. A handshake is ok but hardly hugs or kisses in public. Family members are an exception. However, young people are becoming increasingly expressive.
Western clothing style is typical. Men dress in suit and tie, women more eye-catching. The quality of the clothes impresses more than the fashion. Folk costumes are common at festivities. When visiting, you find out if you can keep your shoes indoors.
Anyone invited to an Estonian home is happy to bring flowers or a chocolate box. Flowers are often used and the bouquets are beautifully tied with odd number of flowers. Gifts don’t have to be expensive, it’s the idea that counts.
Estonian cuisine includes dark bread, fish (mainly herring), pork, potatoes and cabbage. Sauerkraut is common, as is the meat and potato soup seljanka.
The table layout is often relatively formal. You stand at the table until you are invited to sit and do not start eating until the hostess starts or someone says “head isu” (tasty meal). You should eat everything on the plate and avoid supporting the elbows against the table.
Businesses are expected to be straightforward and keep promises and commitments. Esters show self-control even if they are not satisfied. They prefer to use facts and figures to deal with emotional arguments.
A business meeting usually begins with a welcome speech from the oldest present Est. The leading person in the visiting group should respond with a short speech, concise and relevant. Meetings can continue over lunch or dinner, as the conversation can become more social and provide an opportunity for personal acquaintance. You prefer to do business with friends, which makes the time at the meal as important as the one at the negotiating table.
It is nevertheless important to maintain the formality of business meetings. An overly relaxed attitude to business is not appreciated. Several meetings are usually required to reach a decision. If you do not meet the company’s top tier from the outset, the transaction must be carried up the decision-making chain for approval.
Older businessmen usually speak only Estonian and Russian fluently. Therefore, there may be a need for interpreters at meetings with foreigners.
Humility wins. One should avoid strong emotional expressions and try to convince or press. It is also inappropriate to clump the esters with letters and Lithuanians.
Traditions and holidays
Despite low religiosity and despite the Soviet system’s attempt to end the Christmas celebration, Christmas is still the biggest celebration of the year for the Estonians. Advent is also celebrated as in Scandinavia. Estonia’s former president spoke of a special relationship between the “Christmas” nations. In this way, the Estonians, who call Christmas for jõulud, are enclosed in the Nordic community, while letters and Lithuanians are placed side by side.
According to Countryaah, Midsummer, St. John’s Day, is the second big holiday of the year, when you light a midsummer bonfire by the water, sing, dance and enjoy the summer night.
The national holidays reminiscent of Estonia’s independence are of great importance. National Day is celebrated on February 24 in memory of the Declaration of Independence from Russia in 1918. Independence’s restoration of independence in 1991 is celebrated on August 20, when Estonia resigned from the Soviet Union.
Independence has important symbols in the blue-black and white Estonian flag and in the national anthem Mu Isamaa (My Motherland). Both were banned during the Soviet era but became very important in the so-called singing revolution, which helped to break up the Soviet Union and pave the way for Estonia’s other independence.