At 11am, the university corporations had their procession from Town Hall Square to Toompea, singing as they went. It is simultaneously a jolly, dignified, as well as a slightly odd spectacle.
Most of the fraternity men carry rapiers, and they appear to be the real thing. I was a little worried that both they and spectators would make their way up the hill to the castle via Lühike jalg, a narrow stair. Luckily they took Harju hill, which has more elbow...epee room.
Now as someone who isn't part of any order, fraternity or league, I couldn't resist a good-natured comment about the corporation flags, once the swords were at a safe distance. After seeing nothing but blue black and white hanging from buildings, the scene on Town Hall Square was more motley; one of the Estonian flags had apparently been through the wash with the green things (sorry, Rotalia) -- and it looked like the square was also being used as a staging point for an obscure league of central European countries.
It is an old tradition that both in the lower Old Town and on Toompea, the respective officials are offered a pint of a beverage to quaff from a tankard. In the lower town, the mayor's representative, who looked like a prim and high-maintenance woman, had what was obviously Fanta or some sort of near water.
In the courtyard of Toompea castle, speaker of parliament Ene Ergma (looking very imposing, even ladylike, in a fur coat as I have never seen her), obliged the crowd by quaffing until there was nothing more to be quaffed. "Riigijuhtimine on ikka hull raske asi," she said, coming up for air. (Running the state sure is a damn tough job.)
Ah, Estonia. I love it.
Then it was down the street to the Toomkirik, where the oldest Estonian national flag -- dating from 1884, when it was the flag of the Estonian Students' Society -- was on display before a colour guard.