Q: Which festivities were celebrated in autumn?
A: Here we’ll speak about two important days.



MARTINMAS (mardipäev)  November 10

It is said that doing rounds dressed as a mummer (mardijooks) is an ancient international custom which evolved from collecting gifts for monasteries during medieval times. Germans brought this tradition to Estonia in the late Middle Ages.

IN THE PAST
Martinmas mummers (mardisandid) went from one house to another on Martinmas Eve.
They wore dark clothes.

There was an entire Mardi-family: it was customary to do these rounds as a family led by the mardi-father and mardi-mother. The latter was appreciated for her singing skills and eloquence, which were both necessary qualities. The Mardi-father was the most important character.

On Martinmas handicraft would presented to the mummers, who brought good luck with the crop.

Bans were in force on work – no work related to flax was allowed (particularly in southern Estonia) because it would not grow; sheep shearing was not allowed from Martinmas to St. Catherine’s Day, because then the sheep would not mature.

The bigger the group of mummers, the more children the master of the farm would have, the more generous the harvest and the more blessings the livestock would receive.

The mummers mostly took a concertina with them, as it was easy to carry. Violins and harps were also important instruments. Moving from one house to another, they made even more noise by playing trumpets or clashing pans, as this was supposed to ward off all evil.

The mummers danced in circles, pairs and alone; sometimes they asked the members of the family to dance with them. 

They brought cattle good luck. After making their rounds the mummers gathered in an inn or on a farm to hold a party which could turn into a village hop (simman) at which music and dancing were essential.

Traditional food at home was a Martinmas goose. Poultry was customary as it secured luck for horses.

NOWADAYS
Martinmas mummers are mostly school children, and they usually do not ask the families to dance with them. Clothing is not dominated by black: anything will do to disguise oneself. To ask permission to enter, they usually sing a special song at the door.

 

Mardilaul

Tere, tere, eidekene, teiseks, tere, taadikene,

marti, marti.
Laske mardid tulla, mardid tulnud kauge’elta,

marti, marti
Mardi  küüned külmetavad, Mardi varbad valutavad,

marti, marti
Mart toob meile lehmaõnne, kannab kotta karjaõnne

marti, marti

Weather forecasting is related to these days. It is believed that ‘Mart freezes and Kadri thaws’ or vice versa, if it is thawing on Martinmas, it will freeze on St. Catherine's Day.

Today mummers go from house to house without making noise or singing. Indoors they dance and sing some more. Riddles are posed. It is customary to put some sweets, cookies or other treats into the mummers’ bags. Sometimes people also give them money.

People eat everyday food, but in some places a Martinmas goose is cooked.

St. Catherine’s Day (kadripäev)  November 25

IN THE PAST
The tradition of celebrating St. Catherine’s Day originates from early history. Catherine, the patron saint of the sciences, lived in Alexandria. People began to honour the day of her death.

Our ancestors celebrated kadripäev to honour Kadri, the guardian fairy (spirit) of cattle.

Kadri mummers brought cattle good luck.

On this day all chores associated with wool such as spinning, knitting and sewing were forbidden, as it was believed that this might harm the sheep. It was advisable to shear the sheep.

On the eve of St. Catherine’s Day the village boys and girls would move around dressed as kadrisandid (Kadri mummers). They wore light-coloured women’s clothes.

In order to get in, they had to baa like a sheep at the door. Indoors they sang, posed riddles, danced and played games. Beans or peas were tossed on the floor.

On St. Catherine’s Day night, unmarried women stood in a circle and then a goose, duck, hen or cock was brought in. The woman to whom the bird went first would get married.

Kadri mummers did not make as much noise as Martinmas mummers. They went around as a family led by a kadri-motherKadri family - Kadripere
In the 19th and 20th centuries people mostly disguised themselves as a kadri family, with the kadri-mother or kadri-wife being the leader. Others usually acted as kadri-children of different ages, for whom the kadri-mother sought donations as the children sang and danced to get them. The kadri-mother often carried a kadri-baby – a doll made of rags etc. who always urinated when let in (a custom related to fertility; there was a bag, bottle or sprayer with water hidden inside the doll) and who could easily be used during the performance, a similar role to a kadri-father.
, who held a rod or stick in her hand. They also had a kadri-baby with them. The kadri-family could also feature characters wearing animal masks. Groups were often accompanied by one or more musicians. They sang, asked people riddles, danced and played games.

Traditional food included barley porridge (which was also taken to neighbours), flummery, lamb with porridge, peas and beans cooked in salty water, kama  and kama balls. Kadri beer was essential.

NOWADAYS
Clothing does not necessarily have to be light-coloured – anything at hand will do.
To get in, Kadri mummers sing a special song at the door.

Kadrilaul
Laske sisse kadrisandid, kadriko, kadriko
Laske sisse kadrisandid kadriko, kadriko
Kadri küüned külmetavad, kadriko, kadriko
Kadri küüned külmetavad kadriko, kadriko
Kadri varbad valutavad, kadriko
Kadri varbad valutavad kadriko, kadriko
Laske sisse kadrisandid, kadriko, kadriko
Laske sisse kadrisandid kadriko, kadriko

Songs, dances and riddles are similar to those used on Martinmas. The bags of Kadri mummers can be filled with sweets and fruit. Some people have also started to give them money.

In recent years, the number of Kadri and Mardi (Martinmas) mummers has decreased in cities as people do not want to let strangers in and the front doors of apartment buildings are locked.

However, in smaller towns people know exactly who lives where, and the mummers also visit apartment buildings.
Nowadays Kadri mummers often have a flute or recorder with them to play music to their hosts.


GLOSSARY
ban on work - töökeeld
cattle - kariloomad
crop - viljasaak
flummery - kiisel
loft – lakapealne, pööning
Martinmas - mardipäev
mummer - (kadri- või mardi)sant
riddle - mõistatus
spinning - ketramine
St. Catherine’s Day- kadripäev
to ward off evil - kurja eemale peletama
village hop - simman

Exercise 7

Exercise 8

  Listen to the words in Estonian and repeat.  
 

 

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jaanipäev

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jaaniviht

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sõir

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kohupiimakorbid

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tagumine paar välja

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mihklipäev

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hingedepäev

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mardipäev

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mardisandid

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mardijooks

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simman

 

 
     

Exercise 9

  Listen to the words and expressions in English and repeat. Try to remember the context in which every word was used.  
 

 

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midsummer

sauna whisk

bonfire

fern flowers

St Michael's Day

all souls' day

Martinmas

mummers

village hop

Kadri mummers