town hall tallinn old town

Interesting Fact about Christmas Tree Display in Tallinn Old Town Square

First of all, Merry Christmas for those who celebrate it!

Seeing and speaking about beautifully decorated Christmas trees in shopping malls, main squares and the rest of public places, it reminds me of a visit to Tallinn in 2012. During the trip, my family and I took a day tour highlighting one of the most preserved medieval old town in Europe, the Old Town of Tallinn, which is listed in UNESCO Heritage Site.

Starting from Toompea Loss, we walked down the cobblestone street through Pikk Jalg Street, literally meaning “long boot”, to the lower side of the old town until we arrived at the main Town Hall Square, or Raekoja Plats.

tallinn town hall estonia
DKLo disguises as a Christmas tree, standing on the exact spot of a Christmas tree display in Tallinn main square

What brought me attention the most then (and now) about the town hall is not really about the iconic Tallinn Town Hall nor the restaurants and cafes nearby (although I admit that the meat pastry at the underground cafe in front of the square was super lovely).

The tour guide showed us a circle spot on the cobbled surface street in the middle of the square, which is believed that it was where the first decorated Christmas tree to be erected and displayed in public, before other European countries do and perhaps the rest of the world.

It started in 1441 by the Brotherhood of Blackheads, a group of unmarried merchants, ship owners and foreigners founded in the mid 14th century. Since then, the ritual lives on after almost 600 years later. The main giant Christmas tree in Estonia’s capital is placed in the same spot every year, along with Christmas Market in the town square.

I came in July and there was no Christmas tree and Christmas Market yet. To recall myself what the circle spot stands for, my cousin DKLo posed as a Christmas tree instead.

Until now, some still argue about the truth behind the fact. Nonetheless, until it’s proven otherwise, I think we should thank the Brotherhood who initiated the brilliant idea, that has become one of the most preferred activities for both young and old generation during the festive season, no matter if the tree is displayed in public or just stays in a living room.

Rõõmsaid Jõulupühi!

town hall tallinn old town
Another view of Old Town Square. The guy on the left somehow reminds me of a Santa Claus disguises as a normal person when he escapes North Pole 🙂

This Pipe Player Could Have Fainted on Stage!

I only had 8 hours to explore Tallinn. When my love of the city started to grow, time’s up. I should head to the next destination as scheduled. Reluctantly, I became a sheep, following the rest of the packs (read: passengers) obediently to walk back to the Princess ship docking at Saaremaa Harbour, the Port of Tallinn. While the rest turned right, I walked straight instead to the source of the rhythm of a brass instrument that reminded me of a Scottish pipe. I wasn’t familiar with the song being played, but for sure it wasn’t an American pop music. May be a folk song, or a local pop music. That’s why it triggered me to approach the sound of music.

Shortly after, I was face to face with an adolescent playing a bagpipe. Right in front of her feet, a tote bag was left open, functioning as a “piggy bank” for keeping tips from tourists.

The port has been the main location for cruise ships to anchor, carrying thousands of international tourists worldwide, who spend a day or even some hours (yep, they don’t have much time in the world) in Estonia during their trip to European countries situated around Baltic Sea. No wonder that the blond teenager in front of me tried to get a stroke of luck from the situation.

playing music

With her bagpipe, she could use the opportunity to be anyone she wants to be. A cultural ambassador, a professional musician or just a street artist collecting small changes, it’s her call. She managed to keep the strain smooth and uninterrupted at the beginning. All the notes, the melodies came out flawlessly by heart. Though I couldn’t tell the quality of her performance since I know nothing about the instrument.

I took my camera out of my pocket to immortalize the moment before it was over. A moment later, something happened. When I pressed the shutter button, I heard a pitch. More than once. It seemed that the melody was getting out of the line. It just didn’t sound right. What was going on?

I believe the mind controls one’s gesture, physical movement. Anxiety, distraction struck her. Her eyes didn’t look down any longer to her busy fingers opening and closing the pipe holes. Those eyes were staring at the lens instead, posing like a model, leaving the core mission of her presence: to perform beautifully and bring some money home.

I bet she loves camera and selfie too, like many other teens in today’s generation and that’s all right. As long as she kept concentrating to her music. But she failed to do so. She lost her focus from the moment my lens was on her. I stepped aside, hoping that she was back in track. Anyways, I had to make myself back to the “pack”.

Coincidentally, I looked back for no particular reason. I saw another man behind me doing the same thing like I did. And guess what happened next. The pitch was worse than ever; that no one was able to distinguish the piece she was playing. It was on and on and on, lasted longer than I expected.

What if she was performing on a live concert, or a competition, where thousands of spectators are on her? Where those camera flashes blink repeatedly, ceaselessly, blinding her eyesight. Something she still needs to deal with it, overcoming her nervousness, anxiety during performance.

I think to myself: she could have fainted on Eurovision!

Street performance is one of the best ways to practice and I was glad she had guts to that despite the weaknesses. Best of luck for this young and pretty blond girl. She still has a long way to go to reach her dreams.

Time for my ship to leave the port.