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The President of the Republic handed over folklore prizes

The President of the Republic and Mrs Ingrid Rüütel handed over the President's Folklore Prize. The laureates of the year 2005 are Jüri Metssalu and Tiit Birkan. Photo: Alar Madisson, the Estonian Literary Museum.The President of the Republic today, at the Estonian Literary Museum in Tartu, handed over the President's Folklore Prize. The laureates of the year 2005 are Jüri Metssalu and Tiit Birkan. This year the folklore prize, donated by the President's Cultural Foundation, amounts 16000 kroons, which will be divided between the two laureates.

Jüri Metssalu, a student of Tartu University, initiated and organised the collection and study of local traditions from his home neighbourhood in Raplamaa. The most significant part of his work is the collection of old traditions, including folklore material and material related to local history and people.

Tiit Birkan, a long-time correspondent of Estonian Folklore Archives, has since 1981 sent to the archives more than 750 pages of handwritten manuscript material encompassing a great variety of folklore: proverbs, proverbial phrases, myths, descriptions of folk customs and beliefs, as well as children's rhymes. The collections of Tiit Birkan attract attention with high level of creativeness and give evidence of good knowledge of subject matter.

The Head of State congratulated the laureates of the Folklore Prize and expressed hope that their fruitful cooperation with the Estonian Folklore Archives would continue.

President Rüütel thanked the Estonian Literary Museum for collecting and preserving folklore during so many years. ''Traditional history reflects the life of people through the ages. It is very important to preserve it, as our identity is directly connected with traditional history and cultural memory. Remembering and preserving our shared history is an essential factor in shaping Estonian nation and in its survival,'' the President of the Republic said.

In the words of Jüri Metsalu, when collecting traditions of your home place you become more strongly rooted into your native soil. He added that the aim of his work is to share that ''feeling of your roots'' with others.

Beside the prize awarding ceremony, the programme of the event at the Estonian Literary Museum included presentations introducing new contributions that had arrived to the Folklore Archives last year, the presentation of a new CD ''Songs of Siberian Estonians'' and a new publication ''Works from the field of ethnomusicology, 3: from traditional to pop music''. The participants of the ceremony also enjoyed a musical greeting performed by the ensemble ''Tsõdsõpujaleelo''.

The President’s Folklore Prize is an annual monetary award given to persons who have made significant contributions to the Estonian Folklore Archives. The prize was founded already in 1935 as a Head of State's Award. The prize was reinstated in 1993 with the support of the President’s Cultural Foundation and the first prize was awarded in 1994.

Public Relations Department of the Office of the President
Kadriorg, February 20, 2006

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