Last night, I attended a rather strange but apparently popular event: yes, there was a Christmas tree burning ceremony in Tallinn. At least a thousand people, probably more, showed up to watch all the trees being set on fire, as well as a few large “fire sculptures” for good measure.
I can find absolutely nothing about this online other than the advert for the event itself, which you might enjoy:
Other than that, and one line I found saying that the burning of the Christmas trees traditionally celebrates the victory of light over darkness (hear, hear to that!), I have no explanation whatsoever.
It was all rather exciting though. Crowds of people were already gathered by the water’s edge as we arrived, and an enthusiastic drummer was keeping up an atmospheric tribal rhythm on the other side of the pool, where all the “fire sculptures” were set up and ready to be, erm, set on fire. They included, quite bizarrely, a giant peace symbol like the one I have tattooed on my back.
In my country of origin, they set fire to items they loathe, such as police cars, flags representing The Other Side, and so on and so forth. I am not sure why it is that the Estonians want to set fire to peace signs, but I presume that it does not mean the same thing that it would in Harryville.
Boom! Boom! Boom! went the big drum, much like… oh, never mind.
Anyway, eventually our host appeared and gave a dramatic and quite scary-sounding introduction and commentary in a very deep, spooky voice. His speech boomed and echoed impressively across the water.
Unfortunately I did not understand a word of it. It would have been useful, as to be perfectly honest I did not have a clue what was going on, or what any of the “fire sculptures” were meant to be, with the exception of the aforementioned peace sign. Men with flaming torches approached, dancing to the rhythm of the drum. Like cavemen who had just invented fire. They lit the sculptures one by one.
This one, for example, may or may not have been a lion. Or a dog. It is difficult to say.
Nevertheless, it was a very entertaining evening, which culminated in a somewhat distressing bonfire. All the Christmas trees went up in flames, and I didn’t know how to feel about it. I enjoyed the atmosphere and the entertainment, certainly, but there was something very sad about all the poor trees, once so prettily decorated with baubles and twinkly lights, burning away and disappearing in a cloud of smoke.
Christmas is definitely over.
And incidentally, should you ever happen to be in Tallinn and find yourself watching a Burning of the Christmas Trees display, do not forget your Silly Hat. That would be a mistake, in these temperatures. So frozen were we by the end of it all that we just got on to the first tram that appeared. No matter that it was going in the opposite direction; my nose was about to fall off, and as long as I could sit at a heater I didn’t care where I was going.We simply rode to the end of the tram line and back, effectively tripling the length of the journey. However, it was worth it, as I did not lose any part of my body due to frostbite.
Brrrrrr, brrrrrrr, and brrrrrrrrrrrrrr.