Tick-tock, tick-tock – here comes the sound of jingle, jingle, jingle. Christmas Eve is near, and you may be fretting about what to buy that Estonian in your life.*
Maybe you realised a watch just isn’t necessary – always punctual, Estonians have an inner Timex accurate to within plus or minus five minutes. Or maybe the eggs and bacon scented candle under last year’s tree was met with a recipient’s frown.
Yes, a keg fridge or a pool table might be perfect (is my wife reading this?), but maybe you want to gift something a little more personal, something a little more ethnic. So, as an important public service, here is some sage Estonian gift-giving advice:
1. Estonian Scrabble
This popular word-building board game was available in an Estonian language version, but may have been discontinued. Regardless, don’t let that stop you – make your own game board. The problem is, Estonian words are really, really long (uusaastaöövastuvõtuhommikuidüll, anyone?). Plan for a board at least three metres by three metres in area. Also, skip the traditional seven tiles per person rule and go with 42 tiles. Last, don’t be stingy with the umlauted vowels.
2. A hat
Not just any hat though, make sure that personal gift to your beloved Estonian is proportioned for that oversized fair-haired cabbage on their shoulders. Diameter is key here, because a recent study by Tallinn University found that Estonians, on average, have one of the largest noggins known to mankind. Yikes! On the bright side, for cranially exaggerated Estos, maybe phrenology wasn’t a quack science after all?
3. An iPad
Everything is done electronically in Estonia – voting, banking, signatures, registrations etc. Services include e-cabinet, e-law, e-police, e-taxes, e-schools – the list goes on. Apparently, in development are e-vacations, e-beer, and e-copulation. I’m not so sure about any of them though. For example, I prefer my brew made from barley, hops, yeast, and water. Binary code tastes horrible and just doesn’t pack the same punch.
4. The “Estonia is Located Here” app
Available through Google Play and Apple Store, this gift is geared to ex-pats and descendants living abroad. Because let’s face it, when you first tell someone you or your lineage originate from Estonia, you are inevitably met with a puzzled frown. In those times of need, whip out your cell phone, tap the app, and an interactive world map narrated by president Toomas Hendrik Ilves will take your geographically challenged conversation mate for a magical ride through the land of song festivals, unspoiled nature and pickled herring open-faced sandwiches.
Ah, Estonians – notoriously lacking in the emotion department. Many neuroscientists attribute this straight-faced temperament to an underachieving hippocampus in the brain. In fact, some linguists believe Estonia is based on the root word “stone.” So, this Christmas, give your Esto an assortment of emojis. But don’t stop at those cute computer-generated smiley faces popular in emails and text messages. Think emoji business cards to pass out during business meetings or cocktail parties. Or, perhaps emoji buttons one can pin to their clothes to telegraph their inner feelings to the world. A box of a dozen assorted emojis costs only €35. Less frequent Estonian emotions, including ecstatic joy and touchy-feely, are available à la carte for an additional €4 each.
Häid jõule kõigile! (Merry Christmas to all!)
Cover: Festive motif of flour in the shape of Estonia (the image is illustrative/Shutterstock). * Please note that this article was originally published on 20 December 2015.