Received from: Estonia
Category: Choose a Country RR
Date: October 2011
Time of travelling: 3 days
National flower - Blue cornflower.
The campaign to choose a national flower was organized by The Estonian Wildlife Protection Society. The televised contest was carried out in 1967-68. The ornamental blue cornflower was the favourite. In choosing it, several considerations were taken into account: general popularity, decorative appearance, easy applicability as an artistic motif, and domestic origin.
The cornflower has grown on Estonian soil for more than 10,000 years, from the time when the first humans came to Northern Europe. The plant grows commonly in rye fields, creating a strong connection in the minds of Estonians between the flower and their daily bread. The blossoms of the cornflower have a particularly striking graphic appearance which has led to its use by artists for decorative purposes. The cornflower is also part of the young girls' festive garland. It is possible that the cornflower was chosen as the national flower in 1968 for another important reason. People knew that the blue of the then forbidden Estonian flag was defined as "cornflower blue". This made the cornflower a symbol of resistance in its own way. The Soviet authorities, in a move that is nowadays quite difficult to believe, responded by banning representations of the cornflower. Thus, at the 100th anniversary of the Estonian Song Festival (1969), all the cornflowers used as decorations were painted over with red and presented as "carnations".
The barn swallow, the national bird, is a characteristic guest of Estonian homes. Its call can be heard from practically every eave or barn rafter in the country. If the bird finds a suitable opening, under the ridge of a roof or a broken window, it will build its cup-shaped nest; it will even build it inside a house. The choice of the barn swallow as a national bird was mainly the result of a campaign conducted by ornithologists at the beginning of the sixties.
Estonian national stone is the country's valuable grey limestone. Estonia lies on a thick layer of limestone which is visible on the steep banks of northern and western Estonia. Most castles, churches, farm buildings, and countless stone fences are made of limestone. Research on limestone and its well-preserved fossils has for centuries brought Estonian scientists international renown. Perhaps that is one of the reasons why numerous scientists supported the declaration of limestone as the national stone of Estonia.