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On Christmas Eve in Estonia, this gnome-like Santa known as “Jouluvana” brings sweets and fruits to good boys and girls, and piles these gifts into and around the youngsters’ slippers. To help “Jouluvana” in his efforts, the children put their slippers on the windowsill before bed. Estonians hold their religious Christmas traditions very dear, yet they also embrace some modern and secular habits at holiday time. Advent calendars serve as the first signs of Christmas in many homes. You might also see families making Christmas crowns that resemble small church chandeliers. On December 24th, it’s tradition for the President of Estonia to declare Christmas Peace during attendance at a Christmas religious service. This ritual began in the 17th century by order of Queen Kristina of Sweden. Estonians will tell you that it’s important to keep all brooms especially clean during Advent because of devils that steal dirty broom sticks and fly around during the Christmas season, playing tricks. Now that the domination of the Soviet Union has been lifted, all of these holiday traditions flourish once again along with the special additions of the Catholics, Russian Orthodox and Lutheran families. Depending on what family you visit at Christmas, you may enjoy fried goose with apples, fried turkey, pork and Sauerkraut, Pipparkogid cookies, a fireworks display, or a recitation of poetry.
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