26 December 2006

'Twas the Night before Christmas

Well, 'twas the night before and the night before the night or so. The first half of the 2006-07 school year ended December 22 with an optional service in EELK Tapa Jakobi kogudus, the local Lutheran church. The Estonian language is a little interesting here. Kirik is church; kogudus is congregation, or could be parish. So when, in English, we say St. Jacob's Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church (kirik), Estonians say St. Jacob congregation, or parish, (kogudus). Church (kirik) refers only to the building; Congregation, or parish, refers to the community of parishioners.

I snuck out of the service for an unplanned, unscheduled shopping trip to Tallinn, where, already, there are just as many political advertisements for the March 2007 elections as there are Christmas decorations. I'm proud to say that the Christmas lights along the length of my building make it one of the most festive in Tapa!

Estonians celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve, because I don't think there is any Estonian child who would get up at 5 o'clock in the morning to see what Santa had left for them. There's not an Estonian child who would get up at 5 o'clock period. The kids here like their sleep. I spent Christmas Eve with the same family that I went potato-picking with in the fall. While cold beer, close friends, and a wood-burning sauna always bring a smile to my face, they are no match for the joy of watching a child opening a Christmas present.