Tallinn University of Technology

Winter solstice marks the beginning of winter and Christmas time. Christmastide is a season that covers two weeks of the darkest time of the year.

In most languages, the name of the holiday is connected to the birth of Jesus Christ – Christmas in English, Noël in French, Рождество in Russian, and Weihnachten in German. The variants of Yule (Jul), the ancient pagan name for winter solstice holidays, are only retained in Nordic countries. In Estonian, the name (Jõulud) is used in plural, which means that Christmas is not celebrated only on one day but during a longer period (Jõulud. M. Tamjärv).

In the Estonian folk calendar, Christmas started on Saint Thomas’ Day on 21 December and ended on Epiphany on 6 January, or on Saint Knut’s Day on 13 January (nuudipäev in Estonian, sometimes celebrated on 7 January).

People began cleaning their house and started preparing Christmas meals on Saint Thomas’ Day. The food was supposed to last until Epiphany, a day that commemorates the visit of the Magi to the Christ Child. All celebratory events had to be finished by Saint Knut’s Day, when men would wander from household to household, kick the holidays out of the house with a knout made of straws, and drink beer that was left over from the holidays.

The exhibition presents books that introduce Christmas customs in Estonia and elsewhere, offering ideas on how to craft Christmas presents and decorate your house.

näitus pühad kauniks

The exhibition was compiled by Taimi Nurmiste, tel. 620 3554, and designed by Tiia Eikholm.