26 December 2010

Merry Christmas! Go get naked... Christmas in Kooraste!

Some people talk about surviving Christmas with their family; this isn't usually the case for me. However, this year, I can say that I survived Christmas in Kooraste! With the crazy levels of snow, getting to Sirje and Lembit's was questionable... We decided not to take Jane's car and instead have Lembit come pick us up (after our ride, Liivi and the other Lembit, decided it was best not to risk the roads). At times during the drive, I imagined I was either in a video game or on an amusement park ride; we were slippin' and slidin' and there were some spinning tires... We also had to pull over once or twice to scrape the ice off the windshield. The hail/snow mixture was freezing as it hit the windshield. I joked that they could blame me for the snow, since Estonia was making up for all the White Christmases I haven't had.

Eventually, we made it there and were welcomed into the warmth of their home before we were promptly shown the door... Presents? Dinner? After the sauna. It literally was like, "Merry Christmas! Go get naked. And you must jump in the snow. We'll feed you and you can give us our presents later. Go on now, get in the sauna." (Maybe that's not quite verbatim but that's what happened.) So Jane and I put our ski coats and snow boots back on, were each handed a drink, and we tromped through the snow to the suitsu sauna. Once we were thoroughly baked and drenched in sweat, we ran out into the snow, tossing armloads of snow onto ourselves and into the air - we were crazy enough to do it three times! It was actually a rush and not as painful as I anticipated. (Margo had said "It was terrible" and he only had the guts to jump in the snow once... Take that!)
The suitsu suana... I dare you! 
Inside the suitsu sauna. The buckets of water are used to through water onto the coals and for washing as much of the baked ham smell off as you can when you're done.
This was my third jump into the snow... Did you really think I'd take a picture without the towel? Each time, we threw handfuls of snow onto ourselves or at each other - your toes quickly get really cold!!  
Sirje and Lembit singing "Oh Christmas Tree" in Estonian for their present
Margo's girlfriend, Anneka, had tons of questions to ask about Americans, life in the States, and why my family hasn't moved back to Estonia. It was fun to talk about the differences between both countries and opened my eyes, once more to things I wish were different in the US. Finally it was time for dinner... more blood sausage, potatoes, vodka, sauerkraut, pickled pumpkin, and pickles... delicious. Sirje noticed how much of the pumpkin I was eating and sent me home with two jars of pickled pumpkin and a jar of her pickles (all homemade); plus lihapirukad and gingerbread cookies. When we woke up this morning, she served me a plate of blood sausage, stuffed beef round, potatoes, sauerkraut, and lihapirukad with coffee. Lesson learned? If you come to Estonia, come hungry! 
Anneka and Margo 


  1. Lucky you! You got to spend Christmas with wonderful family! Love your pictures. Our wonderful family here all missed you. Sorry I didn't get to take any pictures. Just didn't think of it. Check with Taylor...she has some news to tell! We are all very happy for her. Love you.

  2. Sounds like you are having the best time! And as for the naked snow jumping... you are one brave girl! But an experience you'll remember forever

  3. That's awesome! Good for you Kels! =)