We are all the face of Estonia: Piret knows stories that have lasted for millennia


Piret Päär's profession and life calling is storytelling. She's been doing this work for 33 years. She tells stories to adults and most of them are old folk tales.

"These old folk tales are in my heart because I grew up with them and, quite honestly, I wouldn't have been able to survive so long in this life if I hadn't had these old stories," says Piret. "So maybe the story I tell can in some moment offer some comfort, redemption, provide some strength, or some entertainment -- why not, that's always been a side effect."

According to Piret, throughout the ages people have been looking for the secret of life in these stories, and the secret of how to be human. "Stories are like invisible threads that connect us in time and place, no matter our culture, ethnicity, age, and everything else that at times divides us," Piret says. "Listening to a good story can create a connection between different people, leading us to see how we are the same. We have the same fears, the same love, and the same scars. Stories have been a very powerful tool in building and sustaining communities," she adds.


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When we talk about the magic of stories with Piret, we come to the conclusion that a person can only respect what they understand, and that understanding is achieved best through stories. Respect then follows. "Old folk tales come from oral tradition, but everything changes for a story when it is written down. For a person to understand what value lies inside them, they should be given a life that can only come with storytelling. So to give life to a story, you need a storyteller in between," Piret explains.

In answer to the question of how exactly this story life-giving happens, Piret responds: "I have a lot of stories that fascinate me, and when something happens to me in my life, that contact makes the old story come alive again. And these folk stories are very contemporary. That's one of the interesting things, that over the centuries man has not changed. People are loved in exactly the same way, and betrayed in exactly the same way."

It is undoubtedly our common belief that fairy tales and folktales are all very suitable for children's bedtime stories. "But they're not!" Piret protests. "If the adults themselves are not fascinated by these stories, then the child will not get the same experience. That's why it's my job to first awaken in the adult the recognition that a fairy tale can touch them."

Estonia is very rich in folklore, we have one of the largest archives of Estonian folklore in the world. These folktales are timeless treasures just waiting to be found and discovered.

Author: Diana Lorents/HAVAS
Photo: Virgo Haan/HAVAS


We are all the face of Estonia