As we live in a dark and cold place, fire is a symbol of life...|
As we live in a dark and cold place, fire is a symbol of life. There was always someone looking after fire. The worst thing that could happen would have been if the fire extinguished.
A long time ago a meteorite fell down into Saaremaa (an island of Estonia, almost the same size as Chios). Its fall was visible for all Estonians and after this there was darkness all over the Estonia for a while because dust and smoke filled the air. It became a legend that Taara, the main god in Estonian religion, threw his spear – a snake of fire – to Saaremaa. Because of this event inhabitants of Saaremaa got a lot of iron to export to other Northen countries and the people got rich. So the catastrophe turned into a blessing. This event is a starting point of many legends in Estonian folklore.
Estonians have many traditions connected with fire. The most important of them is celebrating a Midsummer Day on 24th of June. All Estonians gather together around big fires. Boys and girls jump over the fire with a goal of having good luck throughout a year. The fire should not be left alone because Vanapagan (Estonian version of Satan) would come to warm his hands.
Nowadays we celebrate a new year with fireworks but it’s quite a new tradition.
There is also a huge light festival in the beginning of February. The main event during this is making fire sculptures of old Christmas trees and hay. Originally Estonians used to light fires to celebrate breaking of a backbone of a winter – it means that half of a winter is already over and there will soon be spring. It’s like celebrating Suns birthday.
An important day celebrated with fire is also the 1st of May. At 12 p.m. a lot of little fires are lit all over the country. It symbolizes melting iced ground and burning off winter. At the same time it’s also a good opportunity to burn all the stuff that has appeared after snow melted.
The habit of burning last years grass is also closely related to this event. Unfortunately dry grass is very flammable and this habit causes many accidents every year. After a certain date it is actually forbidden but people have a strong tradition and firemen have to work hard for a few weeks in every spring.