Finno-Ugrian Days – History and Aim
Finno-Ugrian Days, which have been marked since 1928, have developed into one of the most important series of events that acquaints the wider public with Finno-Ugric peoples and strengthens the ties between them.
According to a decision made by the 4th Finno-Ugric Cultural Congress in Helsinki in 1931, the Finno-Ugrian Days are held annually on the third weekend of October in Estonia, Finland, and Hungary. Over the last few years, Finno-Ugric-themed events have also been organized at this time in Russia's Finno-Ugric regions.
In February 2011, the Estonian Riigikogu approved a bill, according to which Finno-Ugrian Day is a state day of importance to be marked on the third Saturday of October. The Estonian flag is to be flown on that day, also.
In Estonia, one can attend concerts, view films on Finno-Ugric topics, and take part in literary events as part of the Finno-Ugrian Days organized by NPO Fenno-Ugria. Invited to Estonia for this event every year are bands, writers, artists, and other guests from Russia's Finno-Ugric areas, as well as from Finland and Hungary.
The main Finno-Ugrian Days events are traditionally held in Tallinn and Tartu, but Finno-Ugric music groups also travel all across Estonia during that week in October, performing at smaller schools and local cultural centers.
Teachers and rural cultural workers are also included in the organization of the Finno-Ugrian Days, setting up events acquainting Finno-Ugric peoples. Local folk-art collectives often take part in these events as well.
Upon coming into contact with their kindred peoples during the Finno-Ugrian Days, many Estonians become much more strongly aware of their ethnic heritage and their part in the Finno-Ugric family. The events also deepen Estonians' honor for their own language and culture. While visiting Estonia and seeing the attention paid to them, Russia's Finno-Ugric peoples gain a deepened sense of worth for their national cultures.
At the same time, the Finno-Ugrian Days enable Estonians to think of themselves as a bigger nation to some extent; to broaden the base of their cultural and linguistic pyramid, so that they should not have to adopt the surrounding larger peoples' foreign, identity-destroying influences to such a great extent any longer.
Likewise, the Finno-Ugrian Days progress cooperation among the Finno-Ugric peoples: this has enabled many of these nations to find themselves and survive.
Khantys at the 2010 Finno-Ugrian Days main concert in Tallinn's Flower Pavillion.
Let's celebrate Finno-Ugrian Days!
The fantastic tradition of acquainting the Finno-Ugric peoples and their cultures during the third week of October began already in 1931, but was interrupted during the Soviet period. The tradition was revived in 1988, and in March 2011, the Estonian Riigikogu approved a decision to mark Finno-Ugrian Day as a national day of importance on the third Saturday October, on which the national flag is to be raised.
Since 1991, NPO Fenno-Ugria has organized Finno-Ugrian Days: lasting an entire week in October, they provide the public with an opportunity to share in the culture of Finno-Ugric peoples. The main events during this week include large folk-music concerts in Tartu, Tallinn, and Viljandi; however, folk groups arriving from various Finno-Ugric regions travel across all of Estonia, performing at schools and local cultural centers.
Exhibitions, film days, conferences, and other cultural events acquainting the Finno-Ugric peoples are also organized during the Finno-Ugrian Days by the Estonian National Museum, the Estonian National Library, the Estonian Academy of Arts, creative unions, as well as cultural- and educational institutions. A large portion of the events take place in rural areas, and are focused on school-age youth according to the Finno-Ugrian Days' original goal.
Since its inception, the goal of the Finno-Ugrian Days has been cultural and educational cooperation between Estonia, Finland, and Hungary; the acquainting of kindred Finno-Ugric peoples to the public; and through this activity the strengthening of Estonians' ethnic self-awareness. Over the last few years, the Pan-Finno-Ugric days have mostly focused on the moral support of Russia's minority Finno-Ugric peoples so that their languages and culture do not fade away as a consequence of Russification and globalization.
This year, 2013, has been declared the Year of Cultural Heritage in Estonia, during which there are plans to turn greater attention towards Finno-Ugric culture as well. In cooperation with the Estonian Museum of History, NPO Fenno-Ugria has organized the traveling exhibition titled "The Waterbird People. Lennart Meri's Film Expeditions 1969–1988".
Lyudmila and Aivar Ruukel, rural tourism entrepreneurs, have prepared the project "Finno-Ugric Tastes in School Cafeterias", aduring the course of which the foods of Finno-Ugric peoples will be acquainted to the wider public. We hope that the Finno-Ugrian Days will develop into a memorable day of celebration all across Estonia, broadening our knowledge of Finno-Ugric peoples and deepening interest in ethnic cultural heritage.