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Avaldatud: 7 January, 2014

Events history

For the past ten years, groups studying the smoke sauna and bringing it into the consciousness of local people have been active. The local NPO “Hinokad” has collected stories about smoke saunas over the years, and they have photographed, measured and described 160 smoke saunas from all over Old Võromaa. Some articles on smoke sauna customs and smoking meat in the sauna were published in the local calender book. Some documentary programmes on smoke sauna customs have been shot in cooperation with the Estonian National Broadcasting Company.

Activists gathered several times in 2009 and 2010 to discuss what could be done to  preserve the smoke sauna tradition. It was concluded that the tradition needs much more attention, and some activities were initiated to study and promote the heritage.

In 2010 the local newspaper initiated a story contest on the theme of the smoke sauna. 23 stories were submitted that were published over the following year. In the schools of Old Võromaa, children wrote research papers on the smoke sauna customs of their family or village.

In 2010-2012 researchers at the Võro Institute investigated current smoke sauna customs of families and people’s attitudes; ethnology students of the University of Tartu carried out fieldwork on the same topic in the parishes of Põlva and Urvaste. Two BA theses were written on the basis of the collected material. The book “Mi uma savvusann” (“Our own smoke sauna”) was published, comprising both older and new material collected in the course of fieldwork.

In 2011 Andres Ansper, a student of national crafts at theUniversity of Tartu Viljandi Culture Academy, wrote a manual for building a traditional South-Estonian smoke sauna as his final thesis. A smoke sauna was built in Haanja according to the manual’s instructions.

Students of the Võru Vocational Training Centre helped to compile the smoke sauna website:

A travelling exhibition was compiled on the smoke saunas of Old Võromaa and Setomaa, now travelling through the community. A short documentary on smoke saunas and smoke sauna customs in Old Võromaa in the southeastern corner of Estonia was completed in the summer of 2012.

Events historySaunas and sauna customs have been described and popularised in the form of study days, bees and open saunas where people can voluntarily participate in work processes: at the Põlva Folk Museum (whisk making, repair work in a sauna, heating), at the NPO Vanamaja (building new log houses and renovating old ones). In Haanjamaa a smoke sauna week is held every summer (work related to sauna customs, having a sauna, teaching how to smoke meat and build a sauna).

In November the smoke sauna community holds a Smoke Sauna Day where the events of the previous year are discussed and plans are made for activities in the coming year.

In 2012 and 2013 the community prepared an application to propose inclusion of the smoke sauna customs of Old Võromaa in UNESCO’s List of Intangible Cultural Heritage. The application was proposed in March 2013. In summer 2013, joint fieldwork with the University of Tartu was held. The object of the fieldwork was to examine the smoke saunas in Vastseliina parish.

Võromaa Smoke Sauna Cooperation Council

Contact persons:
Eda Veeroja
Külli Eichenbaum