On the last Saturday in August thousands of bonfires are lit by the Baltic Sea, inland lakes and rivers, both in Estonia and in neighboring countries.
The Night of Ancient Bonfires is dedicated to the Viking Age and medieval times, when such bonfires were used to carry messages of threat and to guide the ships safely home.
We have found information that bonfires were lit on the shores at the end of the summer already in the 1980’s, but it was not yet a national tradition. The tradition started to spread in Estonia and Finland at the beginning of the 1990’s.
Now we light these fires at the end of each summer to remember the fires of the past, and to impart positive thoughts and emotions as a community.
The main aim of lighting these bonfires is to increase the feeling of unity in the communities surrounding the Baltic Sea. Finland has picked up the tradition, especially in the Turku Archipelago. It is also rapidly spreading in Latvia, but bonfires are also lit in Lithuania, Sweden, Poland, Russia and even in America.
See the map of fires at: https://www.muinastuled.ee/lokkekohad-2019/
If it is not possible for you to light a fire by the sea, a candle on a window sill or even a virtual bonfire on the map of fires is enough to pass on your good wishes. Virtual bonfire is a great alternative when lighting a bonfire on the shore is impossible due to lack of firewood or for safety reasons, and also when there are physical limitations that prevent you from going to the beach, but you still wish to join the event mentally, to be part of the Baltic Sea communities. It is the thought that counts, and a bonfire, real or virtual – when you register a bonfire on the map the „light“ still shines.
Estonians love their bonfires, and more likely than not some bonfires bear witness to small song festivals.
The Night of Ancient Bonfires reminds us that we are people of the sea, and sea is what unites us. Likewise, the night reminds us that the sea and the nature that surrounds us need safekeeping.
The source and heart of the Night of Ancient Bonfires is in Estonia. The ring of bonfires that reach around the Baltic Sea has its origin here, on our shores, and people keep that fire alive year after year.
We invite you all to join the Night of Ancient Bonfires, and to join us at the 4th Baltic Sea Conference on Literacy.
No distinction – one humanity, one world ocean, and common fires in our hearts and eyes. This is how we find a common language.
Coordinator of Muinastulede öö