* If you grew up abroad but were visited by an Estonian-speaking Santa on Christmas Eve where do you think he began his journey ? You might have sent your wish list to the Canadian North Pole where the postal code is HOH OHO, or given the letter to your ema to pass on to the Estonian Santa ...
Ulvi Haagensen, who grew up in the Estonian community in Sydney Australia says when the man of the hour arrived at their Sõrve summer camp, which was held each year before the holidays, there was no doubt about where he had donned his long-johns and mitts – Eesti! Sure, he had stripped down by the time he reached the balmy Southern Hemisphere and had abandoned his sleigh for a tractor, motorboat or canoe, but he came from the north and to those kids that meant Eesti. (Read more about Ulvi’s Christmas then and now in Tallinn in the Märkmik column in this week’s paper.)
Although Canada Post is extremely scrupulous about getting mail to and from Santa stationed at the North Pole (põhjanaba), has anyone ever actually been there and seen it firsthand ? There simply is no access. This is of course a great way (ploy ?) to secure Santa’s privacy. But what about Santa’s Village in Bracebridge, south of Kotkajärve? Is that where he has his cottage (suvila) and does his PR (suhtekorraldus), OR is it safe to assume that there is a larger diplomatic corps of Santas – his aides and representatives, trained in all possible tongues, dialects and customs at the nerve centre in the Canadian arctic ?
Luckily in Scandinavia roads north don’t simply end in a snow bank, at least not until they reach the polar ice cap and/or Santa, whichever comes first. And so there is tangible proof, after an 11 hour train or car ride north from Helsinki, that there is life and a beautiful, magical land no less, above the Arctic Circle (põhjapöörijoon). Most of Europe and even Japan (with direct flights from Tokyo), sees Santa’s village outside of Rovaniemi as jõuluvana’s home. After all, his reindeer (põhjapõdrad) would not be able to graze at the North Pole…
As for the teams of helpers and look-alikes, there are a .........
........ number of so-called jõulumaad (Christmas lands) in Estonia: at the Palamuse school, attended by the infamous Joosep Toots (from the novel Kevade), Mõniste Päkapikumaa (Elf land) in southern Estonian, various museums and parks such as Lahemaa rahvuspark on the northern coast host events and activities and the cream of the crop is the 2-day jõuluküla (Christmas village) of a century ago at the Rocca al Mare pioneer village-type outdoor museum in Tallinn this weekend. But in other Santa news :
Estonian crowned top Santa at the Santa Winter Games in Sweden
Aare Rebban won this prestigious title in Gällivare Sweden at the third annual Santa Claus Winter Games in November. 5 bearded representatives from Estonia competed against similar men from seven countries in porridge-eating, climbing up the chimney (a challenge, since most European Santas prefer the door), racing with push-sledges (soome- or tõukekelk) and driving a team of reindeer.
This was followed by the 5th annual international Santa Claus conference in the seaside town of Pärnu. 67 jõulutaadid and –memmed (women too!) took part in official talks, opened an exhibition of lights and ice, competed in various skill-testing events, gave a concert and took part in a parade around town.
This abundance of Santas can get confusing, not to mention scary. No doubt this is why Switzerland’s Society of Nicholases issued a ruling this year, banning its 100 professional members from sitting children on their laps. Large groups of Samiclauses (as he is known in Swiss German) parade through the streets on St. Nicholas Day, Dec. 6 before visiting children. Walter Furrer, president of Zürich's Society of Nicholases, said the rule had been introduced after a flurry of calls to the society from parents. “This measure is above all to protect our Nicholases,“ he said, adding that the decision had provoked heated debate in the usually sedate world of Swiss Santa Clauses. (source: telegraph.co.uk). Thankfully the queue to sit on jõuluvana’s knee in his cabin under the big tree in Tallinn’s Raekoja plats has not waned.