Estonian Traits – What Makes an Estonian
Being half Estonian and half Australian I have often been teased for my mixed heritage.
On the one hand I have the endless optimism and the down to earth nature of an Australian but also possess the polite, reserved and formal qualities of being Estonian. It’s a good mix to have and has served me well through life.
My sister told me recently that Estonian women are known for being very well organised whilst Estonian men are perceived to be like “MacGyver” – they can fix anything. I know this is definitely true in my father’s case. Here are some other personality traits which are typical of Estonians.
Estonians are taciturn people. They prefer to say little and to communicate using direct speech. Estonians don’t like to engage in small talk so if they have nothing to say they will probably say nothing at all.
Estonians are stubborn, reserved and disciplined people. They tend not to show their emotions even though they experience them like everybody else, rather, they like to appear strong and composed.
It’s rare to get a big belly laugh out of an Estonian particularly if he or she doesn’t know you well. A funny joke is more likely to be met with a wide grin rather than uproarious laughter.
Estonians are self reliant people. For centuries they have survived harsh winters and foreign oppression, living off their own produce and their wits.
National pride is strong in Estonia and it’s common to find the Estonian national flag displayed outside people’s homes. Nearly every home in the country, especially outside the city, has an apple tree in the garden and cat ownership is high in Estonia too.
Estonians have long been a superstitious people. They consider it bad luck to shake hands across a threshold or slice bread facing the front door. If you drop a slice of bread you must always pick it up and kiss it to avoid bad luck coming your way.
It is considered very impolite in Estonia to yawn without covering your mouth or talk to someone with your hands in your pockets.
Estonians are cautious. They are wary of strangers and may give you a cool reception in the first instance. Once they get to know you they will open up and you will find them to be very warm and hospitable.
A compliment given by an Estonian is always genuine. It will only be given if they feel you’re truly deserving of it.
Photo: Estonian community in Sydney
by Tatiana Lestal