Estonain Folklore

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You are visiting the Estonian folklorists' server Haldjas (fairy, guardian spirit), which was set up in 1995 by the folk belief research group of the Institute of the Estonian Language. Presently, the group and the server have been incorporated under the Estonian Literary Museum. The majority of electronic publications and data corpora in the server are in the Estonian language, which belongs to the Finno-Ugric language family. Estonia is a small country with ca one million people, who speak the Estonian language as their mother tongue.

The server offers a wide range of information on oral heritage, folklore and folk belief, on the institutions actively engaged in folkloristic research in Estonia as well as researchers and research projects. The covered aspects of folklore also include the heritage of other peoples of the Uralic language group. The server features two journals that have been published online and in print since 1996: Mäetagused and Folklore: An electronic Journal of Folklore.

Only parts of the material are currently available in English and/or German; in time the proportion of material in foreign language will grow.

Our news!

Folklore: EJF 86 has been published

We are happy to introduce you to volume 86 of the journal Folklore: Electronic Journal of Folklore, with Piret Voolaid (Estonian Literary Museum) and Saša Babič (Institute of Slovenian Ethnology) as guest editors. The special issue encompasses different materials, approaches, and topics of school and children’s lore in Estonia and Slovenia. The issue discusses methodologies as well as the material itself. The material under discussion is both old and contemporary, which gives us an opportunity to see the shifts in topics and forms as well as worldviews of schoolchildren.
The introductory articles constitute a brief overview of the history and specifics of the collection and research of school lore in Estonia and Slovenia. In the Estonian case we can speak about more than 100 years of experience in collecting and researching school lore. The comprehensive article by Saša Babič analyses school lore collecting in Slovenia, which was diametrically different from the Estonian case, being anything but fruitful. Contemporary collecting methods provided new opportunities but along with them also new thoughts about the material as well as new ways for reaching schoolchildren.
The issue continues with three articles discussing humour, creativity, and play in folklore among and about (school)children. The article by Barbara Turk Niskač and Katarina Šrimpf Vendramin, “Play and Folklore in Children’s Peer Cultures”, examines children’s creative production of and participation in a shared peer culture. Focusing on material on children’s use of counting-out rhymes, faecal humour, and word play, gathered through participant observation and video ethnography in two Slovenian kindergartens, the article demonstrates the importance of social participation in peer groups from an early age and the alliances, conflicts, and power hierarchies involved.
Anastasiya Fiadotava’s article “Children as Agents, Targets, and Intermediaries of Family Humour” focuses on the humour produced by, aimed at, or referring to children in family communication. It seeks to establish which roles children play in family’s humorous communication, and how these roles reflect their agency in the interactions with parents. The research results show that much of family humour is generated by children either consciously or unconsciously.
Piret Voolaid’s article, “Representations of Distance Learning in the Memes of the First Wave of the COVID-19 Pandemic: Humour as Coping and Self-defence Strategy”, presents creativity as a consequence of the pandemic crisis. The author shows that students who are the main creators of memes regard the humorous memes about distance learning as a form of communication which offers an alternative and multifaceted perspective on this important method of learning during lockdown.
The following two articles constitute a different section: they emphasise the role of media, fear and adaptation to panic and its mirroring in games and tales. Astrid Tuisk’s article, “Children as Consumers and Co-creators of Cultural Products: The Impact of Foreign Films on Estonian Children’s Culture in the 1950s”, examines how the post-World War II trophy films, which differed from Soviet films in terms of their themes, ideas, presentation, and setting, became box-office hits and one of the sources on which the post-war generation built their gender identity.
Reet Hiiemäe and Andrus Tins present contemporary material of school lore in the article “Suicide Games, Abandoned Houses, and Thirst for Danger: The Youth’s Personal Experience Narratives and the Media’s Moral Panics about Semi-Supernatural Challenges in Estonia”. The article discusses the material that is not widely known in general public, and even more difficult to approach: the dynamics of the media and real life in relation to the so-called dangerous folklore of teenagers, which includes, for example, contacts with aggressive (semi-)supernatural fear creatures, frightening experiences in abandoned houses, and notions of so-called suicide games.
The last article in this special issue is “Slovenian Folk Lullabies: Analysis of the Lullaby Texts and Their Functions” by Vanja Huzjan. The author analyses folk lullabies through the psychoanalytic view as the archaic form of calming down with rhythm and begging.
The section of practical viewpoints presents a contribution by Anders Gustavsson under the heading “An Experienced Ethnologist’s Thoughts on Digitalization, Open Access, and Open Data as New Research Assets”, and one by Giulia Gollo, „Folklore and Greek Hagiography: Some Preliminary Notes”.
These are followed by a review essay by Aleksandr Rusakov, Anastasia Kharlamova, and Aleksandr Novik, under the heading “The Romani in the Russian Empire, the Soviet Union, and the Russian Federation”. The issue concludes with overviews of a conference and two doctoral theses.
Folklore: EJF is a peer-reviewed open access academic journal published since 1996 and the current issue is available online at

CFP Nature and Culture in the Rituals, Narratives and Beliefs

Join us!
The 5th edition of the international conference ‘Balkan and Baltic States in United Europe: History, Religion, and Culture V’ to be held in Tartu, Estonia on September 18–22, 2022. This time we are happy to announce that the general topic of the conference will be ‘Nature and Culture in the Rituals, Narratives and Beliefs'
DEADlines: For proposals – May 30.
For any questions don’t hesitate to contact:
Response with acceptance of paper – June 30.
Second Circular – July 15.
The working languages of the conference are English and Russian. Applications and presentations can be made in either language. We intend to publish the conference papers (after editing and peer review) in a special publication of our journal ‘The Yearbook of Balkan and Baltic Studies’, indexed by SCOPUS (

More information

Doctoral school, May 26-27, Toila

Spring school 2022 “Dialogues with the senses”
Organiser: Estonian Literary Museum
Time and venue: 26-27 May 2022, Toila Spa Hotel, Ida-Virumaa, Estonia

The series of the autumn schools organised by Estonian Literary Museum will be concluded by a spring school on 26-27 May 2022, titled “Dialogues with the Senses” in Toila Spa Hotel ( The spring school observes the role of the senses in culture through time – reflections of sensory perceptions (e.g., tactile experiences, hearing, seeing, non-verbality, subconsciousness, the sixth sense) in language use, beliefs and fears, representations and functions of the senses in various cultural spaces, symbolism, chronicles, modern media and advertising. The event takes place in cooperation with the Graduate School of Linguistics, Philosophy and Semiotics, but other PhD students (e.g., cultural research), their supervisors as well as master’s level students are also warmly welcome.

The LECTURES and DISCUSSIONS of the spring school approach the topic of the senses in a broad and interdisciplinary way: we look at sensory perceptions in language use, in transcendent and supernatural experiences; their role in philosophies and lifestyles and their cultural and semiotic outputs.
PhD students whose research topic is related to this topic are welcome to give a 20-minutes paper. Please inform about your interest in presenting a paper by April 26th; in case that you want to participate without a paper, the deadline of registration is May 12th (please fill in the registration form (.doc) and send to the address: Final programme and information about reading materials will be sent by May 19th. Working language is English.

Students can earn 2 credit points (ECTS) for participation or 3 credit points when additionally presenting a paper.
The trip between Tartu to Toila will be organised with a rented bus. All participants are granted food and accommodation (in double rooms), there are also nice possibilities for recreation activities onsite. In case of Covid restrictions, virtual formats will be used if necessary.

The event is supported by the European Union (ASTRA project of Estonian Literary Museum, EKMDHUM), it is also related to the Centre of Excellence in Estonian Studies.
More information: Reet Hiiemäe,
Information will be also added to:

Welcome to the Annual Conference!

Annual conference of the Centre for Excellence in Estonian Studies
Subjectivity and Intersubjectivity in Language and Culture
May 12-13, 2022, Tartu, Estonian Literary Museum and University of Tartu.

Subjectivity and intersubjectivity are at the core of any interaction and creative work.

The plenary speakers of the conference are Henrik Bergqvist Stockholm University, Sweden), Władysław Chłopicki (Jagiellonian University, Poland)

Subjectivity refers to the fact that speakers and writers, authors and presenters do not only convey content, but also express themselves, weaving attitudes, assessments and emotions into their texts and works. Intersubjectivity refers to relations with the discourse partner(s) woven into the text or work: the listener, reader, audience, co-presenter, another character in the work, or another work. Thus, these phenomena can be found in different spheres of activity of the Centre for Excellence in Estonian Studies. We invite discussion about what is common and what is distinctive in (inter)subjectivity in language, literature, folk culture, music, philosophy, and computer interaction, as well as what connections can be identified between different types of (inter)subjectivity.

We await papers addressing different aspects of (inter)subjectivity, such as:

(means of) expression of modality, deicticity, expressiveness, and emotionality
entrenchment of (inter)subjectivity in grammar
discourse actions and their means of expression in language and creative work
(inter)subjectivity in computer interaction
corpus studies of (inter)subjectivity
politeness and impoliteness
truth-telling and lying
authentic, imitated and altered (inter)subjectivity
(inter)subjectivity in different genres, text types, and registers
(inter)subjectivity in beliefs and mythology
performance as collaboration

Working languages of the conference are Estonian, English, Russian, and German.

Seminar on May2, at 11 (Tallinn)

Anna Troitskaya will make a report "Emblematic signs on hats in the European portrait of the early modern period. Towards the problem of identity in the portrait"

The report is devoted to the semantic meanings of hat brooches in some European portraits of the 16th century. Having common historical roots with the icons of pilgrims, in a secular portrait they overcame this exclusively religious context. Among other elements of the costume, the signs on the hats acquired a special meaning in the portrait, becoming a kind of expression of the feelings, moods and intentions of the person being portrayed.
The Russian-language seminar will take place in Teams, 2. V 2022 at 11.00 Venekeelne seminar Teamsis, 2. V 2022 kell 11.00 write to

Folklore : EJF 85

Articles in the 85th issue of Folklore: Electronic Journal of Folklore discuss very diverse topics from authors all over the worl: Ruihui Han (China) dwells upon the concept of guanxi; Jordi Ardanuy (Spain) is dedicated to simiots; Imomotimi Armstrong (Nigeria) presents a cultural analysis of the female genital cutting ritual among the Ịjọ in the Niger Delta region; Stefan Danerek (Sweden) examines the Palu’e (Eastern Indonesia) Tata liba ceremony for reconciliation and healing; Luis J. Tosina Fernández (Spain) analyses A Song of Ice and Fire: A Game of Thrones, by George R. R. Martin, in relation to the author’s use of proverbs; Jurgita Ūsaitytė (Lithuania) discusses personal songbooks as imprints of identity in the nineteenth-century Lithuanian written culture.
Merle Talvik, Taimi Tulva, Ülle Ernits, and Kristi Puusepp (Estonia) examine, retrospectively, the nursing queen archetype (based on Florence Nightingale) in the context of changes in Estonian society. Mykhailo Rakhno (Ukraine) deals with plot elements of Gothic origin present in Ukrainian folk legends and other prose works. Mehari Yimulaw Gebregeorgis (Ethiopia) discusses gender role perceptions in selected South-African folktales, interpreting them, using narrative analysis.
As a practical viewpoint, Irina Sedakova and Irina Stahl give an overview of the new webinar series of the SIEF Ritual Year Working Group, aand other activities.
The issue also offers an overview of a school lore competition for Canadian Estonians and two book reviews.
Folklore: EJF is a peer-reviewed open access academic journal published since 1996 and the current issue is available online at

Calls For Papers of international conference ‘Balkan and Baltic States in United Europe: History, Religion, and Culture V’ September 18–22, 2022, Tartu, Estonia

The 5th edition of the international conference ‘Balkan and Baltic States in United Europe: History, Religion, and Culture V’ to be held in Tartu, Estonia on September 18–22, 2022.

Deadline for proposals – April 15.
Please click here to start your registration and submit your abstract (in English): For any questions don’t hesitate to contact:
Conference webpage:

Last Webinar, December 2021 - Christmas Customs, Masking and Mumming, Winter Ceremoniesillage feasts, etc.

We are pleased to announce that a Special Christmas 2021 edition of our Ritual Year Seasonal Webinar series is now ready.
The meeting will take place on Monday, 13 December 2021, 16:00 Tallinn time (14:00 GMT) via MS Teams and will be dedicated to Udmurt winter traditions.
The titles and the abstracts of the presentations are as following:

1. Tatiana Vladykina (Udmurt Federal Research Centre, Ural Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences), Tatiana Panina (Udmurt Federal Research Centre, Ural Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences) and Galina Glukhova (Udmurt State University) will take about The Winter Cycle of Udmurt Calendar Rituals.

2. Tatiana Minniyakhmetova(Independent Researcher, Austria) will talk about her latest book, In Search of Udmurt “Pearls” in Estonian Archives.
Various classical folklore types are represented in the Estonian archives. There is also a big collection on Udmurt oral heritage. Material for the book “In search of Udmurt pearls in Estonian archives” (Tartu: EKM Teaduskirjastus, 2020; 216 p.) was collected from the Folklore Archive of the Estonian Literary Museum, from the archives of the University of Tartu, Estonian National Museum, Institute for Estonian language, Estonian Academy of Arts, Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre and some private archives of the Estonian colleagues. The book contains notes on the history of the study of the Udmurts by scientists from Estonia in chronological order, a list of catalogues, deciphered archival texts on the Udmurt tradition with their literal translation into Russian and commentaries.

3. Eva Toulouze (Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales, Paris & Tartu University) will give a talk about Udmurt Mythology and Folklore, commenting on the latest publication of the Estonian Literary Museum.

4. At the end we are going to see fragments of Tol mör vös [Winter intervillage ceremony], an ethnographic film by Liivo Niglas, filmed in December 2016, Novye Tatyshly, Tatyshly district, Bashkortostan.
As in parallel with the summer cycle, there is also a winter cycle in the sacrificial ceremonies of the Tatyshly Udmurt, who escaped evangelisation and live in a tolerant Muslim environment. The winter ceremonies are more modest than the summer ones: there is in the district only one village ceremony (against 19 in summer) and one ceremony gathering three-four villages.The goal is to obtain the favour of the main deity, Inmar-Kylchin, to whom is addressed a sacrifice and the offerings of the villagers. As the summer ceremonies, the winter ceremony is led by the village’s sacrificial priests. The movie was filmed during an expedition organized with Liivo Niglas, Eva Toulouze and Nikolai Anisimov, in the framework of a French I.U.F. project about the religion of the Eastern Udmurt.

The webinar and the discussions will be moderated by Irina Sedakova and Mare Koiva.
As usual, our e-meeting will be hosted by the Estonian Literary Museum and the Centre of Excellence in Estonian Studies (Tartu).

All Webinars of the Ritual Year WG are available
at the web of the Department of Folkloristicsat the ELM - NB! lectures are in different languages!

Yours,Irina Stahl

Senior Researcher, Institute of Sociology, Romanian Academy
SIEF Executive Board Member
Secretary, The Ritual Year WG (SIEF)

The first wider approach to Udmurt folklore in English

The yearbook you have in your hands is not an ordinary book. It is the first wider approach to Udmurt folklore in English. Udmurt folkloristics has a relatively long history: taking into account the general pattern of cultural development it is more than one and a half centuries. Unhappily for international communication, it is overwhelmingly in Russian. This is the first systematic attempt to open up this rich material to the international scholarly community.

Editors for this issue are Mare Kõiva, Nikolai Anisimov and Eva Toulouze.


The authors of articles in the 84th issue of Folklore: Electronic Journal of Folklore, come from all over the world: from the Baltic countries to such faraway places as Ethiopia and South Africa, and the topics they discuss are very diverse.
Vladimir Sazonov and Sirje Kupp-Sazonov from Estonia in their article “Do Bulgakov’s Hella (Gella), Azazello, Behemoth, and Abadonna have Ancient Near Eastern origins?” focus on the issue of the possible origins of famous Russian writer Mikhail Bulgakov’s demonic characters in the novel The Master and Margarita, by looking into Akkadian and Sumerian mythology and Mesopotamian religious texts.
Emili Samper and Carme Oriol from Spain discuss the problems of self-determination referendum in Catalonia in 2017, in light of rumours in a situation of political conflict. The authors analyse the rumours relating to the logistics required to hold the referendum, the key figures in the process, the organizations that support it, and the actions of the media.
Laima Anglickienė from Lithuania and Antra Kļavinska from Latvia in their co-authored article “The image of the German, the Pole, the Latvian, and the Lithuanian in Lithuanian and Latvian folklore” discuss the issues of ethnic stereotypes, ethnic self-awareness, and identity influenced by historical circumstances.

Two authors from India, Priyanka Banerjee and Rajni Singh, have attempted a queer reading of the revisioning of Madame Beaumont’s “Beauty and the Beast” in Emma Donoghue’s “The Tale of the Rose” and the 2017 Disney version, showing that both Donoghue’s adaptation of this tale and the Disney musical engage in hegemonic and counterhegemonic discourses about cultural constructions of gender.
Júlíana Th. Magnúsdóttir from Iceland, in her article “Women of the twilight: The narrative spaces of women in the Icelandic rural community of the past”, deals with some of the spatial features of women’s storytelling traditions in rural Iceland in late nineteenth century and early 1900s, emphasizing women’s important role in oral storytelling in their communities.
Marc Thuillard, an independent researcher from Switzerland, analyses the worldwide distribution of the ‘man or animal in the Moon’ motif, discussing the different versions of the motif by combining areal studies as well as structural and statistical analyses with information from ancient texts and archaeological artefacts.
Marcin Lisiecki from Poland describes in his article Polish folktales about inanimate nature and atmospheric phenomena, emphasizing the ‘man versus nature’ pattern.
The article by Kennedy C. Chinyowa from South Africa, “Exploring the transformative power of play in African children’s games”, demonstrates how these games were framed by the aesthetics of play such as imitation, imagination, make-believe, repetition, spontaneity, and improvisation, showing that such games could be regarded as ‘rites of passage’ for children’s initiation into adulthood as they occupied a crucial phase in the process of growing up.

The issue also offers an overview of a doctoral thesis and of a young researchers’ conference, as well as a book review.
Folklore: EJF is a peer reviewed open access academic journal published since 1996 and is available online at
Tiina Mällo

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