Wild strawberries by Karl Ander Adami

Estonia is a small country – 1.3 million inhabitants, so about a size of a district of a large city. But Estonia is an independent country, whose official language is Estonian. These 1.3 million people need to keep all the functions of a state going – the educational system from kindergarten to doctoral studies, the government, the economy from agriculture to digital enterprises, the science, all forms of art and culture. And we have been able to do it – we can use our Estonian language in all areas of life from justice to poetry, from higher education to science. And our literature is rich.

To do it with so few people is not an easy task, so it is quite common in Estonia that every person is active in many fields – working as a language and literacy teacher, and writing some educational books, being active in our Reading association, playing chess and role games, doing knitting and ethnic embroidery, singing in a local choir and attending to Song Festival. Or being a policeman, pilot, professional drum player, and poet, enjoying hobby ballroom dancing and working as a Santa Claus during the Christmas time 😉 Estonia is a country, where everyone can be a multi-talent – otherwise functioning as such a small country would simply be impossible.

To introduce Estonia, our multitalented artists, and the upcoming conference, Estonian Reading association has put together a special calendar. The illustrations in this calendar are mainly created by young Estonian artists (some of them are young in heart and some are just school kids – our future artists). Each of these artists has his or her own story, and most of them do not only art (even though most of them do it professionally) but are active in many other fields of life too. Like typical Estonian people.

In addition to the visual art, we also introduce Estonian children’s games in this calendar, the art of playfulness. They are from different time periods, and different places, gathered by the scientists of the Estonian Literary Museum. The collection of Folklore Archives is called Uka-Uka like a famous hide and seek game.

The games have been collected since late 19th century when systematic collection of folk poetry began. It magnified after the Archives were created in 1927. A large-scale collecting competition was held from 1934 to 1935 – over 15,000 game descriptions were recorded. Later such competitions have been held regularly since 1970s, with the last competition taking place in 2013.

Loone Ots selected the games. Her aim is to help the children to be active, thus the current selection leaves out the games that are played sitting around a table, with the help of pen and paper. As Estonia is a Northern country, some of selected games are meant for playing in the snow and on the ice, but these can also be successfully adapted to warmer weather conditions.

Throughout the following months, leading up to the conference taking place in January 2020, we will share the art in this blog. I hope you will enjoy the beauty of creativity and playfulness.