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Estonian Song and Dance Celebration

From 4th to 7th of July 2019 Estonia will hold the Song and Dance celebration titled „My Fatherland is My Love“.  This summer the Song Celebration will take place for the 27th time and Dance Celebration for the 20th time and this year marks the 150th anniversary from the first Song Celebration held in 1869 in Tartu.

The tradition of the song festival was born along with Estonian national awakening and the first Song Celebration was organized by  Johann Voldemar Jannsen and the “Vanemuine” society. In the first three festivals only men’s choirs and brass orchestras participated. In 1896 the celebration moved from Tartu to Tallinn. Nowadays about 30,000 singers from different choirs take part of the celebration.

One of the highlights of the Song and Dance Celebration today is the procession which proceeds from the Freedom Square in the center of Tallinn to the Tallinn Song Festival Grounds (which fits up to 100,000 people) for the opening concert of the song festival.  All of the participants of the song and dance celebration will take part in the procession and everyone can watch the procession free of charge.

The title „My Fatherland is My Love“ comes from a poem written by beloved Estonian poet Lydia Koidula. The same lyrics were sung at the very first Song Celebration and have since then become an anthem for the festival. The guiding foundation of Song Celebration carries essential values for Estonians – to preserve our culture and traditions and the love of the Estonians towards their own fatherland.

Why is the Song and Dance Celebration so important to Estonians? The tradition brings together the whole country and almost half of the population watches the concert and the shows. As a small nation Estonians wish to unify  to celebrate the traditions, culture and history of the nation – to sing together: “The land of my fathers, the land that I love, I will never abandon her”.

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