Join us at E-Klubi 2020, our traditional Estonian Dinner Nights.
We're kicking off the New Year by celebrating Vastlapäev, an extremely important day in our folk calendar well-known for the cream-filled ‘vastlakuklid’ (see recipe here). Traditionally, this day is known as Shrove Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday, which starts seven weeks before Easter.
Tradition of Shrove Tuesday
It is a traditional winter festivity celebrated in many countries - including the Fatty Tuesday or _Mardi Gras _carnival in New Orleans with it origins in 1699. The English tradition involves eating pancakes, playing mob soccer and holding parliamentary races.
This day was related to entertainment, games and dancing and anticipation of spring. In northern countries like Finland and Estonia, the most important activity was sledging down hills – the longer the slide, the better the crop of flax in the next summer.
Getting to the end of winter meant that food reserves were near the end too - in Estonia not much meat would be available so hence the tradition of eating peas and the less tasty parts of pigs, including its feet. The bones were used to make a toy, whirlgig, and competitions held for the best whirl. See here how to make one yourself.
It was forbidden to light a fire or to spin wool. Instead it was important to comb and cut hair. Shrove Tuesday was a holiday for women. They went to inns to have a drink to ensure long flax fibres. It was customary to drink from the bottle to symbolise the length of flax.It was advisable not to lick the fat from the fingers and not to clean your face after eating fatty pigs’ trotters (pig’s feet). This protected you from being cut with sharp instruments.
Sledging down the hills is still popular today. People still speak about the length of flax but flax is not as common as it was back then in Estonia. Children are taught to make whirlgigs using big buttons. Buns with whipped cream are eaten, also pigs’ trotters with pea or bean soup.
Come enjoy traditional ham & pea soup, salted beans, homemade barley bread and vastlakuklid (sweet cream buns). Price to be determined on the day.