Taking a Look at How Students Celebrate the Holiday

This blog post was written by Ilkana, a Law student at TalTech.


Brief overview of Estonia as a study destination

Estonia is becoming more and more well-known as a top study destination. With its inventive spirit and rich history, Estonia provides international students with a dynamic academic atmosphere as well as a wide range of cultural experiences. Estonia, known for its the latest digital infrastructure, is a leader in innovation and technology. The nation is home to internationally recognized universities that prioritize student-centered learning, research, and hands-on experience. Here, universities offer a closely connected academic community that encourages teacher and student collaboration. Beyond academics, its festivals, customs, and inclusive cultural blend make it a welcoming place for international students.

tartu christmas

Estonian New Year traditions

In Estonia, the holiday season is tied together with a diverse array of customs that combine Christian definition, ancient pagan roots, and a strong spirit that resisted attempts to ban Christmas during the Soviet era.

Embracing the Christian aspect of the holiday and remembering the story of Christ's birth, many Estonians attend church services on Christmas Eve. 

When attempts were made to ban Christmas during the Soviet era, a melancholy custom came into being. In resistance, Estonians put candles on the graves of their loved ones who had passed away. This symbolic act of defiance still stands today, demonstrating the resilient nature of the Estonian people.

Families use advent calendars to count down the days and light candles to symbolize the weeks leading up to Christmas. Advent represents the beginning of the Christmas season. Christmas Eve is the primary holiday in Estonia, while Christmas Day also has significance. Christmas is more than just one day in Estonia; it's a season filled with memories, optimism, and resilience that blend to create a distinctive combination of joyful customs.

Estonia celebrates the New Year in a way that combines both current festivities and customs from the past. Usually, the celebrations start off with happy get-togethers where friends and family meet to enjoy a festive dinner.

Christmas food

Photo credit: Kairi Tähe

The new year begins with breathtaking fireworks display above Estonia as the clock strikes midnight.

How universities in Estonia organize New Year events

Estonian universities celebrate the holiday mood by planning a wide range of activities that unite staff, teachers, and students. These occasions, which are distinguished by joyful parties and celebratory activities, add to the energetic and welcoming environment that characterizes Estonia's universities.

Universities in Estonia frequently throw exciting New Year's Eve parties, giving students a chance to say goodbye to the previous year and greet the current one in a social and enjoyable environment. These events, which include dance, music, and other forms of entertainment, help the campus community connect.

tartu christmas maret

At Estonian universities, cooperation is essential for the New Year's celebrations. Collaborative events are frequently planned by clubs, student organizations, and departments. In addition to encouraging students to connect with classmates outside of their academic interests, this collaborative approach strengthens the sense of community.

Several universities host interactive exercises and workshops as part of their annual celebrations. Before the new academic year begins, students can relax and pursue creative interests during these events, which range from craft sessions to themed workshops.

Known for their lively and student-focused environments, Estonian universities make sure that everyone has a great start to the new year. These organizations foster a friendly, inclusive environment that embraces the spirit of celebration and unity by combining holiday customs, teamwork, and cultural expression.

How international students adapt and participate

Events that universities organize for cultural exchange are actively attended and contributed to by international students. These gatherings provide platforms for the exchange of national traditions, customs, and culinary practices, encouraging understanding among the university community's many backgrounds.

International students may become members of clubs and organizations at university to support their particular interests, whether they be intellectual or cultural. These groups offer spaces for establishing relationships, planning activities, and encouraging a feeling of community among peers from similar backgrounds.

They also participate in local festivals, celebrating national holidays in Estonia. This engagement helps all the students feel more united while also strengthening their connection to the host culture.

Renowned for their welcoming environments, Estonian institutions offer a supportive setting where international students can not only adjust to their new surroundings but also actively contribute to campus life. Through participation in academic programs, community service, and cultural interaction, these students add to the vibrant, international learning environments that Estonian universities are proud to maintain.

Experiences of international students bringing their New Year traditions

Ana from Estonia: “My New Year tradition in Tartu is going to Raekoja Plats and enjoying the bells of the town hall at midnight.”


Connor from the USA: "We eat Kringle, laugh, get festive, and then take a moment to reflect on the year with friends before celebrating the new year."

Pooja from India: “I love cooking tasty food during New Year to remind me India.”


In Estonian institutions, festivities are essential to building a dynamic and welcoming community of learners. These gatherings act as catalysts for fostering harmony, crosscultural understanding, and long-lasting connections between students from various backgrounds. The campus becomes a vibrant center of shared experiences and understanding as local and international students come together to celebrate a variety of national, and cultural holidays.

Essentially, fun events are more than just partying; they are crucial components in creating a vibrant campus community. Because of their dedication to diversity, Estonian institutions use the opportunity presented by these events to create a community of students who value harmony and understanding.


Ilkana Aliyeva


Find out which international degree programmes are available for you in Estonia. 


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