Trick or Treat

Halloween has always seemed a very American thing for me and I was quite surprised when I found out that the tradition has originally started from Ireland. As I knew that we were starting to make the Jack-o’lantern, I wanted to find out where that tradition had come from and found a story about Stingy Jack who tricked the Devil and after his death was not allowed to enter neither Heaven nor Hell. So he has been wandering around ever since and using a burning coal in a carved turnip to light his way. To keep him away from the households, people started to make the same kind of lanterns and put them on the doorways during the Samhain, which is a Gaelic festival held after the harvest time to celebrate the end of the autumn and the beginning of the winter. When the Irish started to emigrate to the States, they took this tradition with them, but as there were no turnips in America, they started to use pumpkins instead.

Another new thing that I had never heard before was the Halloween Brack – a sweet bread with raisins and sultanas. It tasted a little bit like a sponge cake but the most interesting part was hidden inside the Brack. In the past, the Brack was used as a fortune teller and you had to be quite careful when eating it because it couldn’t be very safe to bite a coin, a stick, an old cloth, a pea or even a ring but these things were hidden in the Brack and every single one had a special meaning. When you found a pea it meant that you were not going to marry that year, not the worst thing that could happen. Finding a stick was much worse – you would have an unhappy marriage (and a broken tooth sometimes), the cloth would mean bad luck (but probably didn’t break your teeth), the coin would show that you would become rich and the ring, of course, meant that you were going to marry soon. Nowadays only rings are hidden inside the Bracks and you don’t have to worry about the bad luck or unhappy marriage.

The ring was wrapped into a small piece of soft paper but it was quite hidden anyway 🙂

I really enjoyed the decorated houses and the dressed up people here and there. In the city centre, I met a girl with scissors in her head and on our way back home there were lots of dressed up families walking around, probably going to trick and treat. And of course, lots of children came to knock on our door and got their candies. Just one girl said more than “trick and treat”, she asked a tricky question.

And why I am writing this today and why I am surprised that the American, British and Irish children get their candies for just “trick and treat”. It’s because today it’s Mardipäev (St Martin’s Day) in Estonia, and we have also quite a similar tradition here to dress up and go from door to door. It’s an old tradition and is also connected with the end of the harvesting season and the beginning of winter. On that day children dress up as men and go from door to door, sing songs, make jokes, even dance and then they will get their candies (or apples or nuts or some money) and they don’t say “trick or treat”. They tell the story that they are poor Martinman beggars who have had a long journey and who want to come in to warm their toes and fingers which are aching because of cold 🙂

Some St Martin’s Day Beggars from the 90’s

Mrs Brown’s Boys

Mrs Brown’s Boys is an Irish TV-comedy which has become one of my favourites. Before my Dublin time, I hadn’t heard anything about that but somehow it was one of the first things that I got to see and started to like a lot.

This is a story of a very Irish family, where Mrs Brown, played by a male actor Brendan O’Carroll who has also created the whole story, is a mother of 4 grown up sons and one daughter who are living in Dublin. All the characters in this show are so funny and real and talking with such a cute Dublin accent so that sometimes it’s a bit difficult for me to get all the jokes. But I must say that I have done pretty well and if I don’t get something at once, I will just ask. For me, it’s a real insight into the life of a real Irish family with all this humour, sincerity and strength that the people have got here. And I have always admired the art of making fun of yourself, it shows that the person gets on well with his or her own inner self and is happy and full of life.

A year ago, just at Christmas time, I saw the movie – D’Movie – which was on TV for the first time and in which Agnes Brown had to fight over the right of having her stall at Moore street in Dublin. I don’t care if some people say that it’s not funny, I just liked it, and especially how the actors enjoyed making that movie. And I also liked to recognize the places in the heart of Dublin.

“Mrs Brown’s Boys” is quite a Family project because of Agnes Brown, of course, Brendan O’Carroll is actually the husband of his daughter Cathy, and not the mother but the father of his son Buster in a real life. Besides that, there are two more of his grandchildren and also his sister having roles in this show.

In Estonia, we have had something quite similar and as popular as “Mrs Brown’s Boys”, which was also a TV-show, where male actors played the female parts, actually the male parts as well. It was about two middle-aged old-school couples, who were trying to get used to the life in the new Estonian Republic. After being one of the most popular TV-shows for years, it was also made into a movie. Unfortunately, the movie was not so funny any more, or we had just got tired of Maie and Valdur, these were the names of the main characters.

Seán’s Estonia

Here are the places that Sean has visited in Estonia so far. It is mostly the Western and the Northern part of it. So we have still a lot of beautiful places to visit – all the South and of course, the islands and why not have a trip to the Russian border and have a look over the Narva river to the neighbour town’s Ivangorod’s Castle 🙂

The European Language Day

When the Irishman comes to Estonia and there happens to be the European Language Day he will be absolutely used as a live example of one of the European official languages, Irish of course. It doesn’t happen to every single Irishman, but if you happen to be closely involved with someone who works at the school and likes arranging events.

For me, it was really a good chance to bring my Irishman on the stage and let him speak a bit about the language, that most of the people don’t even know. Besides that, it was a good way to show the students that English, which we all think that we can speak and understand, can sound very different when speaking in different English speaking countries. And who the hell knows it better than I do 🙂

And here it is possible to see the presentation – CLICK HERE

Haapsalus on hea

Sitting on the terrace of Cafe Hugo on the Promenade

“Haapsalus on hea” means “It’s good in Haapsalu” and it’s the theme sentence of our town because it’s true.

Haapsalu is a really nice summer resort and it is hidden on the western coast of a small country – Estonia. Haapsalu has a long history and it was first mentioned in written documents in 1279. So that year has been considered the birth year of the town and in 2016 it celebrated its 735th anniversary. The main thing that reminds you that you are in historical town is the old Episcopal Castle which is also the venue for lots of well-known and amazing summer events.

Haapsalu became a summer resort in the middle of the 19th century when the local doctor Carl Abraham Hunnius discovered that the local sea mud had lots of treating ingredients in it and after some research, he founded the first sea mud spa in Haapsalu in 1825. In these days Estonia belonged under the rule of the Russian tzar and Haapsalu became the beloved place for the Russian nobility to prove their health and rest from their busy lifestyle. Because of that, the railway was built, and even if the trains are not in run anymore, we have the most beautiful old railway station, which platform was once the longest in Europe. That was the birth of the summer resort which is one of the most peaceful places in the world and still famous for its sea mud and spas.

In summer time the small town, with only about 10 000 inhabitants, is full of small street cafes, concerts, festivals and summer people, who might be the tourists, visiting the town for the first time, the youth who have been brought up here and come to enjoy the summer in their hometown, people who go to the islands and stop for a cup of coffee and tasty range of cakes in their favourite cafes, and lots of fans all over the world, who keep coming back, wherever their life takes them. The most well-known events are the Festivals of White Lady and August Blues, which have been held here for ages, but also the newcomers like the Street food Festival, Italian Wine Days, Yoga Festival, Old Music Festival and lots of others.

Did I say that we don’t have a train anymore, actually we have one and it takes you slowly through the whole town and introduces you with the sights where you can come back walking when you have taken your coffee and cake from your favourite cafe and ready to go and discover this seaside town on your own. The train is called Peetrike, which is a childhood nickname for Little Peter and it starts from the real old train station.

But if you really really like trains, then just turn around the corner, behind the Train Station, and have fun with the old engines which belong to the Haapsalu Railway Museum, which is located in the same building. We did it some years ago.


The Fiddler on the Roof

I found the  version from “The Fiddler on the Roof” from 1989 when Helgi Sallo played Golde. This time, in 2016, just after her 75th birthday some days ago, she was the Matchmaker and her daughter Liina was playing Golde. It was good that I had time to give some guidelines about the familiar relations of these two actresses, so it was interesting to Sean to watch them together on the stage. He noticed the things that I didn’t and as the musical had Eglish subtitles up on the wall and as he has seen this musical lots of time, and as we watched the movie together at Christmas time, it was easy for him to catch up. And I am happy that he liked it – but the musical was really well done, with such a good choreography, decorations, and good actors that it was impossible not to like it.

After the musical, we had a light dinner in a Babulja cafe near the Opera House. Babulja is a Russian food cafe and has also a restaurant part, but we had to drive back home to Haapsalu and so we chose the cafe. We tried seafood, plinis, which are small Russian pancakes and of course the Pavlova cake, which was the most delicious Pavlova, I have ever tried. It was so tasty, that I even forgot to take a photo 😀


Sushi night in Estonian Summer Capital

parnu_1When you are in Estonia you definitely have to visit the Summer capital Pärnu. We are lucky to have some friends there and this time, we spent our night together with making sushi. 🙂 We felt already like profs because for us it was the second try but we wanted to try something new too and this time we were making also the hot sushi and we didn’t have to be disappointed, it came out really delicious. Just with the help of some youtube videos and a great desire and now I can say that it’s one of the best ways to keep up with your friends whom you haven’t met for a little while. So here’s a bit of Irish-Estonian sushi night captured with a smartphone just somewhere in the middle of the whole tasty and fascinating process.


August Blues Festival in Haapsalu

The August blues festival in Haapsalu was already the third for us together. Last year we had to miss it and so it was nice and fresh feeling to jump into all this music, parties and fun again. I have been going to this festival so many times, that it’s hard to count already, it has been held in Haapsalu 22 times already and has become one of our most famous music events and there are lots of fans from different countries who come back every year. 3-13932816_10205159865835578_2791810301530168709_n

For example, our Finnish friends with whom we have special Festival Traditions and so we start our Festival every year from Riika’s garden and then head to some nice place to have the Festival Dinner and get into the right mood.

August Blues Festival starts on Friday with lots of concerts all over the town but the main events take place in the Castle Yard, inside the old episcopal Castle, and I am pretty sure that the medieval walls give this festival a special taste and vibe. When all the performers have been on stage the party continues i the Blues club, which has always been the old Culture House from the 70-s, where some not so well known bands are playing and sometimes they form totally different bands from the musicians who are there. this year we had even two Blues clubs with two after parties, the other one took place at the Old Cinema, which is kind of a night club now, but years ago it was a real cinema.

The festival continues on Saturday with lots of concerts in cafes, on the streets, and of course, in the Castle Yard, and ends with afterparties at the night clubs. So everyone can find something, even if you are not interested in buying the Festival Pass but want to see just some of the musicians.