Last Tuesday, February 24th was Independence Day, in fact it's one of two such days over here. This one was a celebration of a battle in 1920 when Estonia beat back a Russian invasion after the Germans pulled out at the end of the First World War.
The second day commemorates August 20th 1991, when the Soviet Empire partially collapsed and Estonia broke free, followed by her slower neighbours Latvia and Lithuania a month later. Eighteen years on and relationship between Estonia and Russia is still pretty awful. But that's a topic for another day, this story is about the activities of February 24th.
There is usually a small military parade in the city centre, but as the main thoroughfare in Tallinn is presently being rebuilt the parade was moved to a provincial town. Incidentally that small town is populated mainly by Russians, many of whom can't and won't speak a word of Estonian.
Coincidentally the Estonian back holiday of "VASTLAPÄEV" fell on the 24th this year and tradition dictated that I go sledging and bake pies. Well far be it from me to ignore a dictator, so I helped bake minced meat pastries, Cinnamon rolls and smoked pork and pea soup. In between plenty of eating and a generous consumption of wine, we went sledging. To the surprise of my companions I didn't crash into anything, instead this time I just fell off with style and a little grace.
In the evening the Estonian president gave his traditional speech. Unfortunately instead of giving the usual “It's great to be a free and Independent European“ , it was more concerned with the economy. Anyway that's Independence Day 1 over with, I'll let you know how the sequel turns out in August.