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tere tali kalevi lehelt

This year, 212 year-old Kalev kondiitri/tööstus/ettevõtte (confectionary company's) advendi/ kalender, seen here, and in fact its entire Christmas collection for kids, uses funny word play. Photo:


Tere you know, tali is the same thing as talv – winter. But put together, they form a word pair used (mostly verbally) to express dissatisfaction or an unpleasant surprise similarly to: "Imagine that!" or "Hello!" (As in: you've got to be kidding).


Estonians also say "Noh, halloo!", but "Tere tali! "as well as "Tere talv!"are widely used, reflecting the fact that winter's arrival is quite often a (pleasant) surprise.  Jõulud novembris? Ei noh, tere tali! (Christmas in November? Come on!)


You might've thought you spied an õige/keelsus/viga (grammar error), because in Estonian, you begin a letter with a direct personal greeting by inserting a comma: Tere, Triinu! Yup, a comma and an exclamation mark. "Tere tali"doesn't qualify for this rule, but Tere, kallis Mõmm!would. "Mõmm-mõmm" is the sound Estonian bears make and hence their nickname karu/mõmm , which along with kaisu/karu = teddy bear. Another pet name for a bear is mesi/käpp (honey paw), but that's another Kalev candy! And šokolaadi/tahvel and ice cream and cookie...


In addition to possibly having a calendar window to open each morning during the month of December or roughly the period of advent leading up to jõulud (yule), the majority of Estonian kids leave a suss (slipper) on their windowsill at nightfall starting on 1. jõulu/kuu, into which a päkapikk(elf) leaves a treat. Kalev even makes special tiny sussi/šokolaadidfor this occasion, similar to North American mini treats made for Hallowe'en, which Estonia does not have for its mardi/päev(St. Martin's Day beggars). Check out the Christmas goodies at The advent calendar is already läbi müüdud(sold out) online.


The advent surprises continue after school, when Estonian Public Broadcasting's ETV2 shows a new episode of a children's jul series each night. This year, the Scandinavian jul tradition is from Denmark – a new episode of the engaging "Juleønsker" (Christmas Wish, 2015), every evening from 01.12 until jõulu/laupäev (Christmas Eve). A few years ago, a similar 24-episode norra (Norwegian) series dubbed into Estonian was shown. Swedish public broadcasting has been producing such kids' advent "Christmas calender" tv (and radio!) series since 1960.


With the generous support of the Estonia 100 film program,Estonia has its first ever children's Christmas movie coming to cinemas on 7. detsember!Watch the trailer of "Eia jõulud Tondi/kakul" (Eia's Christmas at Phantom Owl Farm): ready for a new pühade (holiday) traditsioon!


Riina Kindlam,



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