Siberian Estonians - Religion and Expressive Culture

Religion. In the spiritual culture of the Siberian Estonians, folk wisdom played a rather important role, including technological know-how, meteorological observations, and knowledge about animal behavior and medicine.

Almost everywhere the folk holiday of Ivan Kupala (Saint John the Baptist; Jaanipaev) is celebrated, as are religious holidays, such as Trinity ( nelipuhad, suvestipuha ), Christmas ( joulupuha ), and others.

The majority of the believing Estonians—Protestants—are Lutherans; among them some traces of pagan religion remain, however; for example, beliefs in good and bad house spirits, witches, and in certain animals.

Medicine. Together with rational elements (herbal therapy and labor therapy), all kinds of charms to stop bleeding, treat colds, and get rid of warts were popular.

Arts. The most highly developed kind of folk art was folklore. Even now, many older people remember fairy tales, legends, proverbs, riddles, and songs. Singing was accompanied by the cannel (a stringed musical instrument resembling a psaltery), guitar, or balalaika. Until the late 1930s in many Estonian villages there were wind-instrument orchestras that played at public festivities, weddings, and funerals. Of the ancient Estonian songs—"Minu isamaa on minu arm" (My Estonia—my love), with lyrics by the poet L. Kojdula, and "Kui Kungla rahvas kuldsel ajal" (Song about Vanemujnen), together with a number of ritual marriage and funeral songs—were the best known. Nowadays young people prefer soft rock 'n' roll and modern Estonian singers (J. Joala, A. Veski, T. Magi, and others). Of fairy tales, the fairy cycle "Kaval Ants ja vanapa" (Sly Ants and the Devil) is the most popular: in it the smart and clever peasants constantly cheat the evil but stupid devil. Some also know the Estonian epic Kalevipoeg (Kalev's Son).

Death and Afterlife. The funeral ceremony has remained more stable than the customs associated with the wedding. As in older days, only the closest relatives are invited to the funeral, neither nine nor forty days are marked, and the memorial dinner is held right after the funeral.

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