laulev revolutsioon...

estonia01Laulev revolutsioon means 'singing revolution'; it was how Estonia gained their independence in 1990. Laulev is also how Estonians maintained a sense of national identity for the past 140 years. laulev, singing, helps define Eesti or Estonian-ness.

During the Soviet years the annual song contest at Laulapidu was an event that kept the country together. It began in 1869 when choral singing became a cause for celebration, and a reason for the different Estonian communities to come together.

In September 1988 local nationalist, Trivimi Velliste, made the first public demand for independence, before 30,000 Estonians. It was the night of the Estonian Singing Revolution - Laulev revolutsioon.

For those spending longer periods in Estonia, here are a few tips:

o being sociable does not mean being talkative, or communicative or chatting; it means drinking.

o "morning is better than night" is an Estonian aphorism that means it is better to be at the start of something than at its completion.

o Estonian is a language of understatement; 'normaali' (normal) means 'great'.

o Estonia beat Finland in the annual wife-carrying contest in 2006 (and very proud of it).

o it is a tiny country but with a clear north - south divide. Northerners are progressive (after many years of watching Finnish TV); southerners are conservative (Soviet signals blocked Finnish TV transmissions).

o Estonian business strategy is 'be hard - persevere; be soft - adapt!'

o Estonian perseverance is embodied in the Estonian folk hero, world class rally driver, Marko Märtin.

o When Estonians say, 'yes, we're listening', it is not an admission of compliance. It means they are listening. They will do things exactly the way they want to, regardless. Ask any Finnish manager with work experience in Estonia.