Artistic Discoveries in European Schoolyards

“The Vastlakukkel never tastes SO GOOOD...”

INGA VARES Visual Artist, Estonia

I’m ten years old. It’s Shrovertide Carnival. The school gymnasium is packed with strange characters. Tension fills air – who is who behind the masks? There is competition for the best costume and performance. Everyone has prepared with great effort. My 3 year older sister, Marge, with her classmate Evely, helped me to prepare in the school library. I became a Gypsy-girl (probably my cos- tume-choice was inspired by Emil Loteanu film ‘Gypsies Are Found Near Heaven’ 1975). My tambourine, costume and dirty face make me nervous – the role is taking over me. The room is hot, energy is boiling over. I have a plan to dance. When I dare to go out, I improvize … I swirl and swirl and lose myself into my skirt furbelows, rhythm, atmosphere – somehow I became another person, almost an adult, almost a woman.
Big vastlakukkel, first prize and applause of all kids were mine. What I remembered more was the attention of a boy standing right beside me, with stocking on his head in costume of black girl – he was my first love (being same time favorite of all girls since kindergarden). He’s looking at me with admiration! I wasn’t the one he chose as a girlfriend but in this ephemeral moment he was mine :)
My best friend Mari Ma?gi did a great routine on a climb- ing frame as a pink piglet. To accompany herself she imitated the sound of an ape. She was extremely good at this and won a prize too. Next autumn she went into Bal- let School far away in Tallinn and years later became a dancer and choreographer. We met again in Theatre. The question – who is hidden behind the masks – is still a fascinating one.
In Estonia this day, Shrovertide Tuesday, called Vastlapa?ev, is about the wishes and predictions for the coming year. On this day, families go sledding and eat split pea and ham soup. A toy is made from the ham bone by tying the bone to a string and spinning it around to make a whistling noise. The day is marked by eating a traditional pastry, called Vastlakukkel in Estonian. It is a sweet bun filled with whipped cream.
Originally, the pastry was only eaten on this day.
It tastes better if you keep it like this :)!