Aiming to highlight the importance of the sea for cultural and economic development of Estonia, the country’s Ministry of Culture has dedicated the year 2016 to maritime culture and traditions of coastal communities. Throughout the year, a number of thematic events will be organised to unveil the marvels of the sea and promote its values for life and work of people in Estonia. This way, the initiative will support conservation of Estonian maritime heritage and contribute to its enhancement in future.
As stated in a related press release, the Year of Maritime Culture will particularly emphasize human connections to the sea and the ways it has shaped the life, skills and the cultural development of Estonian ancestors, thus creating relevant resources for present generations.
“The Maritime Heritage is not only involved in the protection of physical artifacts, but also in increasing appreciation of the many human connections to the sea. This heritage can be found in the traditions and experience of the people who place a high value on the coastal region as their living environment and for whom the sea is simultaneously work, food and entertainment.”
Estonia’s coastal region takes up a significant percentage of Estonia’s land and such a geographical position has influenced peoplećs lives in a variety of different ways. The architecture, the food, the customs of the people across Estonia historically have depended on the resources offered by the Baltic Sea. Maritime heritage thus extends beyond physical artifacts and this is why this year’s events will particularly put an emphasis on people, their families and their community life.
During a number of cultural festivals that will be taking place in Estonia throughout the year, the visitors will be able to learn about old and traditional skills of their ancestors, as well as the culture they shared. One of the events that will focus on this aspect in particular is a coastal trip that will enable visitors to explore the entire coast and islands of Estonia. The trip is planned to take place on 24 Saturdays from April to October 2016 and its focus will be to present customs, skills and present culture of contemporary coastal dwellers, who represent the carriers of maritime heritage.
In addition to this, Estonia will dedicate multiple other festivals to celebrating maritime culture. Some of these include Tallin Maritime Days, the largest sea-themed family event in Estonia, and the exhibition titled “We Call them Vikings” by the Swedish History Museum. The exhibition will introduce the history of Vikings through a number of artefacts dating from between 8th – 12th century to unveil centuries-old stories of the cultural life and work of Estonian ancestors.
With the 2016 European Heritage Days being focused on communities, the celebration of maritime culture and coastal communities in Estonia represents an interesting aspect to observe in relation to the theme. The dates for European Heritage Days in Estonia are set for the period between 8th and 11th September, when the country will celebrate the common theme "Heritage and Communities."