teisipäev, mai 29, 2007

Heiki Breaky Heart

The first wedding I ever went to was my own. It took place in Tallinn four years ago almost to this day. The only people there were myself, my wife, and the Tallinn city official that married us.

When we went to get our license to marry, my wife was informed that, because of my Italian heritage, she should know that it was entirely possible that I had another family somewhere near the village of Pacino or Corleone in Sicily, with little Ninos and Nunzios running around.

Anyway, we stood there and the official went through a semi-long statement, which included a poem. I understood about 5 percent of the ceremony, but when she looked at me and asked me a question, I said "jah". Then I signed a sheet of paper, put a ring on my wife's finger, kissed her, and ... congratulations ... I was married.

Since then our marriage has outlasted marriages by respectable and very much in love people. For example, we have been married longer than Lisa Marie Presley was to Michael Jackson, or Nicolas Cage was to Lisa Marie Presley.

Anyway, enough about us. Last weekend, we attended a "real" Estonian wedding. It occured in Tartu, and this time I understood a full 65 percent of the ceremony. I also got to meet "real" Estonians. Did you know that there really are Estonians with names like Sigrid and Birgit? And I thought they just put those on the name days calender because they ran out of names!

Anyway, after the ceremony -- to which everyone brought flowers -- ribbons were tied to our automobiles and off we drove, honking through red lights into the manure-rich fields of Põlvamaa, which is the county directly south from Tartumaa (for you geographically challenged people).

On the ride to the turismitalu, first the bride and groom stopped at some random place on the road to have their picture taken. I have seen this before and I have no idea why they do this, perhaps only to piss other drivers off that are not in the wedding party.

Then at another juncture, we all stopped our cars and got out as one of the groom's friends began to play Estonian folk songs on his accordion. Apparently, in Estonia everyone knows someone that can play the accordion. Even if you were born in 1985, the year of compact discs, Nintendo, and the personal computer, if you are Estonian than you can play the accordion and sing songs about fishermen.

The groom was given an axe and made to chop wood in front of the applauding crowd, ready with digital cameras and digital recorders to capture every humiliating moment. For her part, the bride then peeled a potato, which she held up to the partygoers. A random car came down the road and honked in appreciation of how tubli the groom and bride were. All travelers in the car were smiling; an unusual occurrence in Estonia.

Finally, we stopped at a building right outside the turismitalu where atop a tall chimney was a huge stork's nest, complete with stork sitting on top of it, guarding its eggs. The groom climbed up and tied a ribbon to the building; a symbol of fertility, I guess.

At the party, we dined on potatoes, garlic-laden leib, and marinated chicken and fish. I ate way too much, but it was so good and I am not that overweight, so I figured what are three more oil-soaked slices of leib between you and me? Different members of the party were assigned roles: photographers, drunks (technically "noh, mehed" -- guys that say "noh" (well) to remind people to keep drinking).

Then there were the shouts of "kibe", to which the groom and bride had to instantly lock lips and make out in order to prove their love to the crowd. Then the crowd would count in earnest the seconds of tonguing -- "üks, kaks, kolm ... kaksteist, kolmteist, neliteist."

There were also tower-building competitions and, of course, more accordion music. I like Estonian toasts. They are simple and to the point. The ones I heard were "thank you very much, it's very nice to be here, good luck, lots of love," and that's it. There was no grandstanding, as far as I recall.

As we ate, they played dreamy ballads by guys like Uno Loop in the background. I heard "Mis värvi on armastus?" (what color is love?), what basically amounts to Estonian elevator music, at least three times. Then we sang songs together with accordion and guitar backing. Songs about postmen and fishermen, and things of that nature.

After I staggered off of my bench, my gut filled with potatoes and hapukapsas and pork, I went down to the lake for a walk. At that point, the band they had hired, which was really quite good, began playing Elvis covers. When I got back, they started asking around in the crowd for Heiki.

"Heiki, Heiki, kus on Heiki?"

An upright looking gentlemen with spectacles look puzzled and answered that he was said Heiki.

Then they told him they were going to play a song for him, "Heiki Breaky Heart."

The band then launched into a rocking version of Billy Ray Cyrus' 1992 hit, which was 110 times better than the original. And you know what? It's Tuesday, and I still have "Heiki Breaky Heart" stuck in my head.

11 kommentaari:

lex ütles ...

I love that post. It made me laugh :)

LPR ütles ...

Very funny. Justin gives Jerry Seinfeld a run for his money.

Wv Sky ütles ...

I know Billy Ray Cyrus personally. (unfortunately) ;) He lived not far from me.

Giustino ütles ...

I liked him in [i]Mulholland Drive[/i]. He shoudl stick with acting.

Unknown ütles ...

Very estonian wedding what you described- I´ve attended myself several same kind ones in my lifetime. I had myself very minimalistic wedding 5 y ago , just last week we had 5y anniversary and will have to live with that :). But from these traditional Est. weddings I have always found the most annoying these stops of wedding procession cause usually there are even 3-4 stops before reaching the party-place. But in major I find that we have good wedding-traditions and hopefully they will last forever.

antyx ütles ...

Did you know that there really are Estonians with names like Sigrid and Birgit?

I think you should point out separately that these are girls' names. :)

I once stopped at a scenic location to find a wedding party where the bride and groom rode not in a limo, but in an RV. Still wondering what that was about.

urr ütles ...

funny description indeed.
those customes are of course not the ancient ones. i don't know who has invented them.
in an estonian wedding in ancient style there should be much, much more singing of folk-songs, including some laments. there were two parties, one consisted of brides relatives, the other of grooms ones who were competing in singing. the bride must cry and weep as much as possible - then the marriage will be lucky. and no accordion, maybe lõõtspill and fiddle. this kind of wedding you may see probably in Setumaa or Kihnu island.

KRISTIN ütles ...

Yes, sounds like a typical wedding of Soviet Estonia... I hate accordion, one of the most vulgar instruments if not the worst. But I love our "simple and to the point" toasts, who needs long orations.
Btw, mis pagana asi on "Heiki Breaky Heart"??????

Unknown ütles ...

Did you say that your anniversary is around this time? Congratulations! :)

Margaux ütles ...

Hey all-so my grandfather was from Estonia (Saaremaa to be exact) and I'd like to include some kind of Estonian tradition in my wedding (ceremony or reception). We don't know any other Estonians that I could ask, so any help would be great! From what I've read, it seems like as long as we throw a good party, it will be traditional :)

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