Song Celebration 150. The jubilee year of the Estonian Song and Dance celebration 2019

At the beginning of December, the European cultural heritage year symbolically delivered the tied shoes to the forthcoming year that will highlight and value the tradition of the Estonian Song and Dance celebrations.

It is fully justified to call year 2019 the year of the song and dance celebration since it is the most extraordinary year in the song and dance celebration’s movement within the perspective of the nearest 50 years. In addition to the fact that 150 years have passed from the first Song Celebration and the 85-year old Dance Celebration takes place for the 20th time, the whole year is full of jubilees and anniversaries under the frame of the continued jubilee program of the Republic of Estonia 100.

The highlight of the year is naturally the XXVII Song and XX Dance Celebration “My Fatherland is My Love” and the nationwide relay of the flame preceding it which also has the hint of jubilee. For the first time, the celebration flame was ceremonially brought from Tartu to Tallinn 50 years ago, in 1969. As the Minister of Culture, Indrek Saar, said at the opening the song and dance celebration year, the tradition of the song celebrations is the pillar of the statehood and patriotism and an interconnecting bridge between generations. According to the Minister of Culture, generation by generation – through the contribution of fathers, mothers, children and grandparents who have sung and sung along under the song arch – we have built a future to Estonia with the song and dance celebrations, and where we have sung ourselves free as a nation.

Theme year „Song Celebration 150. Estonian Song and Dance jubilee year” provides several ways for participating in the song and dance celebration for everyone. Several museums open different exhibitions and update their permanent expositions beside the jubilee celebration “My Fatherland is My Love” on July 4-7. There will be tens of different concerts and several educational programs.

The year begins buoyantly with starting of the sale of the tickets for the XXVII Song and XX Dance Celebration on January 10. The most extensive part of the learning process for preparing the jubilee celebrations – 617 preliminary rehearsals in counties all over Estonia – starts at the same time. The first concert from the series „Song Celebration 150“ take place in the St John’s Church in Tallinn on January 13.

Whenever possible, the collectives or organisations might join the participation program “Time Travel” that is led by the Estonian National Museum and the Estonian History and Civics Teachers Association, that invites all interested people to travel back in time to May 1869, approximately a month before the first Song Celebration. People will try to find out how the preparations for going to the song celebration were made, what was discussed and what were points of arguments.

The initiator of the movement of that time, Johann Voldemar Jannsen, would probably be satisfied with us today – six generations later the tradition that he initiated is in its prime and carries the same values and ideas about the Estonian language, spirit and culture as 150 years ago. His son-in-law, Heinrich Rosenthal, writes in his memories that were published in 1912 as follows: „Inspired by the German celebrations, Jannsen organised the Estonian Song Celebration for celebrating the national jubilee in 1869 which became the cradle of the national consciousness. The form was borrowed from Germans but the spirituality that spread, was genuine. Several other celebrations followed the first one that impacted the development of the nation’s life unpredictably.“

This impact, scope and meaning is something we want to learn better via the history, education and culture programs. It is obvious that such an extensive movement could not have travelled through its history of 150 years without farsighted and smart leaders – Jannsen, Härma, Ernesaks, Toomi – and without strenuous and dedicated leaders – thousands of collective leaders – who worked hard from day to day.  In the autumn, when the jubilee celebrations are over, we invite everyone to think along with us and discuss about how to notice and value more the leaders of that movement and what else to do so that the historical role and impact of the song and dance celebrations as the keeper of the core values and balance of the society would last from generation to generation.

Song Celebration 150. The program of the Estonian Song and Dance Celebration jubilee year 2019 is available from January on the homepage of the Song and Dance Celebration. It is also possible to subscribe to the jubilee year’s newsletter. We are open to substantial collaboration and co-works and hope that everyone will add all their jubilee year events also to the culture calendar of our good friend Estonian Institute.

The theme-year takes place by the initiative of the Ministry of Culture and under the leadership of the Foundation Estonian Song and Dance Celebration. We appreciate the cooperation of our friends, partners and everyone who is thinking along with us.

Happy jubilee year of the Estonian Song and Dance celebration 2019 to all of us!