What does an Estonian do at weekends?

​That largely depends on the time of year. In a good, snowy winter, an Estonian goes skiing: while a few try to make use of any hillside, and some have even taken to snowboarding, the majority opt for the flat terrain. The sportier Estonians will join thousands of their countrymen who participate in the annual 63-kilometre Tartu ski marathon.

In spring, weather permitting, Estonians often leave the city for the weekends. Many families have a cottage in the country, with a small garden and orchard. As a result, in the autumn, people can load their freezers with all sorts of berries and fruits that they themselves picked. If they are diligent enough, these then become jars of preserves and jams.

Approximately half of Estonia is covered with wood- and wetlands. Much of this land is under some form of conservation. Therefore going for long walks in the wild is one of Estonians’ favourite pastimes. The forest is seldom further away than half-an-hour’s drive, people go there to hunt for mushrooms, watch wildlife, or just for a nice afternoon stroll. Those who do not like to tread their own path can follow marked trails or board walks that have abounded over recent years.

​Long and warm summer days provide a perfect setting for all kinds of family outings – village parties and local choral days, bicycle tours, re-enactment spectacles, joint community jobs, etc. During the holiday season it might thus be quite difficult to decide where to head for and what to see.

Summer activities naturally include a lot of sunbathing by the seaside; Estonia boasts miles of beautiful sandy beaches, and water that may seem too chilly for a southerner is just right for any Estonian who wants to go for a refreshing swim or a round of windsurfing.

​During the winter, Estonians are more sedentary; they fill the local theatres and concert halls and books start to pile up on bedside tables. The young, as ever, seek alternatives, either in the global club culture, or increasingly, by turning their attention to their roots and giving a fresh breath to traditional music.

Regardless of their age or whether they live in a city or countryside, an important weekend ritual for many Estonians is the Saturday sauna. Red and steaming from slapping themselves with a bundle of leafy birch twigs, whatever the weather, Estonians dart from the heat of the sauna directly into the closest body of water.

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