Get into the festive spirit with Tallinn Christmas market
Carousels and Santa Claus, hot wine and handicrafts, performances and Old Town strolls lure tourists
- November 18, 2019 20:30
- Plamen Petrov
This year’s Christmas season in Estonia was given a spectacular start with the lighting of the Christmas tree and the opening of the Christmas market on Town Hall Square in the Old Town on November 15.
Estonians boast that the world’s first public Christmas tree was erected in Tallinn – a claim disputed by their neighbours the Latvians, who insist that the tradition had originated in Riga.
Historians observe neutrality, but if we are to believe the Estonian version, the first public Christmas tree was put on display in Tallinn in 1441 by the Brotherhood of the Black Heads guild, an association of local unmarried merchants, ship owners and foreigners. The event was rooted in a ritual where unmarried lads sang and danced with local girls around a tree, which then was burnt.
For a second year in a row, the current Christmas tree is a true local of Tallinn – it has grown on a property in the Haabersti district. The market’s centerpiece is decorated with 50 LED light strands, 5,000 smaller lights, 2,500 larger lights and white, transparent orbs. It also has 240 red and gold balls, as well as 50 illuminated hearts.
Tallinn’s Christmas market, running until January 7, expects hordes of foreign tourists as its previous edition was voted the Best in Europe by European Best Destinations website. And despite some locals complaining about the quality of some foods and furs on sale coming from animal farms, there is much to satisfy even the most demanding taste.
Domestic production, Old Town tours
This year, organizers have prioritized domestic production. Accordingly, many small local producers, like the ones from the Estonian island of Hiiumaa have opened their own stalls, selling fish chocolate and artisan bread with blackcurrant, to local lamb shank and honey. The Tallinn Art Ceramics Factory, its history spanning 300 years, is also represented for the first time.
Of course, there is the staple Estonian Christmas food exemplified by verivorstid and sauerkraut, gulped down with spiced glögi and finished off with gingerbread. Children can enjoy carousel rides and Santa Claus, who rewards the best verse-reciters with candies.
A special cultural program with singers and dancers is delivered at the weekends. A new feature is the Christmas strolls around the Old Town on Sundays, organized by the City Museum, where the emergence of Tallinn and of local Christmas celebrations is discussed in three languages.
So, in case you have missed visiting Tallinn for its 800th anniversary earlier this year, the Tallinn Christmas market is an excellent opportunity to remedy this injustice.
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