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. 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
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).
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
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
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
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.
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.