Queensland ushers in an early ‘Jaanipäev’ Celebration on Saturday 6th June 2015

Harry Ling 2. juulil 2015

What do you do when you are a long way from home? When you feel the sentiments of the Estonian Poet Juhan Liiv tugging at your heartstrings and you yearn for your homeland Eesti?

Queensland ushers in an early ‘Jaanipäev’ Celebration on Saturday 6th June 2015
Fotod: A. Dupikov

Well if you were in Brisbane it is quite likely you took advantage of the Long Weekend and joined with another 100 Estonians and friends of Estonians in the Jaanipäev (St John's Day) festivities held in Brisbane on Saturday June 6. The day was memorable and involved all things near and dear to those who "Ihkavad isamaa poole" (yearn for the homeland). Indeed the hardships and concerns of everyday life were left behind as Estonian song, music, dance, food and the traditional bonfire reinforced cultural identity in the beautiful bushland setting at Joyner.

The day commenced two-fold.

Firstly a group of helpers met in the early hours to set the scene, provide needed infrastructure and ensure the 'pig on the spit' would be 'crackling and spitting' at the appropriate time. Heartfelt thanks to Raivo Rohtjarv, mum Imbi and Jaak Mardiste from the BES (Brisbane Estonian Committee) who were ably supported by Taaniel Keskkula, Meriliis Orm and Nikolai Smirnov. Thanks also to Karel Baum for her assistance behind the scenes.

Secondly those who wanted to avoid the toil joined thirty choral enthusiasts for a singing workshop at the Latvian Club at Buranda. What a great excuse for myself and others to say – 'we were required to assist in singing'. Estonians in Brisbane sing in a Baltic Choir led by the Latvian Honorary Counsel Juris Meija. We were honoured on this occasion to be joined by the Sydney Estonian Choir, Lõke. Ably led by that intrepid 'Kiwi Estophile', Mr Kieran Scott, the participants (Latvian, Estonian, Lithuanian and Australian) enjoyed the manner, composure and results of the workshop. It resulted in a credible performance of the round 'Mardisandid' and 'Ta lendab mesipuu poole'. Needless to say the Brisbane Estonian Community appreciated the eight members of Lõke who made the trek from Sydney to perform and facilitate community singing during the afternoon and around the bonfire.

Queensland ushers in an early ‘Jaanipäev’ Celebration on Saturday 6th June 2015

The official 'kickoff ' for Jaanipäev was high noon and the aroma of the spit roast, certainly "whet the appetite" for fun and games. The egg catch and toss, tug of war and the opportunity to converse in that Finno Ugric language which binds our culture bought a sense of unity and common purpose. (By the way the Estos beat the Aussies in the tug of war). The Estonian store was certainly an opportunity to stock up and thank you to Imbi Rohtjarv for providing this and the basket of 'goodies' raffle prize. It is ironic but probably fitting that the winner was none other than "dirigent- Kieran Scott".

It is great to utilise the facilities provided by this venue which is the rustic bush home of our Scandinavian friends from the Danish Community. This year we were especially blessed to have the musical talents of Kupalaja. The provision of traditional tunes, music and dance meant that more and more people had to remind themselves we were in Brisbane not that town which takes the name from the Danes (Tallinn). Thank you Kurt and the team.

The call to lunch was eagerly attended to. The roast pork and crackling was served with traditional rosolje and potato salads. It is noted and appreciated that Esmee Okamoto and Katre Bertwhistle assisted in the serving and distribution. A number of ladies "Super Eesti Emmed' provided yummy dessert in the form of Cakes – culinary culture at its best. It would be remiss not to mention the ongoing work of this group which meets as the Brisbane Estonian Playgroup and is ensuring the coming generation appreciate 'Eesti keel and Eesti meel'-(Estonian word/thought). Thank you Kristina Toom Berger for this ongoing work.

The bonfire was a highlight and it was good to see our Honorary Counsel Delaney in attendance. Songs were sung, tales traded and the gathered throng enthusiastically embraced the singing of the Estonian National Anthem. In these times we certainly need to embrace the sentiments of the third verse - Su üle Jumal valvaku, Mu armas isamaa! God protect our homeland.

A small number of folk pitched a tent and subsequently contributed to the inevitable Sunday clean up. Thanks to all and thanks for supporting all that is Estonian in Brisbane.

Queensland ushers in an early ‘Jaanipäev’ Celebration on Saturday 6th June 2015