The Cable

Five Ways You Can Celebrate Estonia’s National Day

Because you only celebrate a 99th anniversary once.


Friday is Estonia’s national day. Ninety-nine years ago, in 1918, the Baltic state declared independence. The Soviet Union later brought Estonia, along with its Baltic brothers Latvia and Lithuania, under illegal occupation anew, but Estonia still considers Feb. 24 its national day.

Estonia received congratulatory messages from Russian President Vladimir Putin (a day early) and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (two days early), and has celebrated with a national day parade in its capital, Tallinn. Estonia does not need you to get in on this. Estonia’s celebrating this with or without you, because independence is the whole point.

But if you were so inclined to get into the spirit of Estonia’s national day, here are five things you could do.

  • Watch The Singing Revolution, the moving (if at times melodramatic) documentary about dissidence (through, among other means, song) in 1980s Estonia.
  • Learn Estonian online for free. (Your author tried this program one summer and found the course excellent, although she did not continue it and now can only remember how to say “hello,” “thank you so much,” and “I don’t speak Estonian.”)
  • Become an e-resident. Estonia was the first country in the world to offer e-residency to “to anyone in the world interested in administering a location-independent business online.”
  • Read Sofi Oksanen, the Finnish-Estonian author whose arresting novels Purge and When the Doves Disappeared both deal with Estonia’s complicated 20th century and the choices made by those who lived through it.
  • Spend two percent of your GDP on defense, per NATO recommendation. Estonia does.

Photo credit: RAIGO PAJULA/AFP/Getty Images

Emily Tamkin is the U.S. editor of the New Statesman and the author of The Influence of Soros, published July 2020. Twitter: @emilyctamkin

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