Today is Võidupüha, or Victory Day in Estonia. It's part of a long weekend called Jaani which combines Võidupüha together with St. John's Day (Jaanipäev), to create an orgy of meat grilling and beer consumption.
Why Võidupüha? This is the interesting thing about living in a country that was founded in 1918. In the US, our country was founded in 1776, and so many of us are well acquainted with the political and social fabric of that time. Even today, you'll hear American politicians occasionally roll their tongues as if their speeches had been lifted from the works of Thomas Paine.
But in Estonia, the backdrop is the end of World War I and the Estonian Independence War that followed. Võidupüha commemorates the victory of the Estonian Liberation Army over the troops of the German Landeswehr at Võnnu (Cēsis, Latvia) on this date in 1919.
For a country that has been victorious in so few battles, they really savor this one. And by "savor," I mean play accordion music and load up on food supplies and alcohol. The line at the local supermarket was long; Estonians filled their carts with mind-boggling procurements of beer, jars of pickles, buckets of saslokk, all while generic accordion music set to an umpa rhythm called out from the speakers.
It seemed odd, really. Estonians? Festive? Not working? Going to a party? Why, that must mean that it's summertime. For my part, I bought a tub full of greasy juustu-sibulla leivad (cheese and onion bread), and two packs of A. Le Coq to ... celebrate the victory at Võnnu. I also made sure to put the sinine-must-valge up outside, just to remind any Germans that might happen to pass by who is boss in this land of umpa music and great beer.