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Midsummer eve or suvi/hari – "the peak of summer", also known as jaani/laupäev (St. John's Day Saturday, i.e. the eve before) has always been the perfect time to gather on the küla/kiik (village swing) in Eesti. The swing at the Eesti Vaba/õhu/muuseum (Open Air Museum, www.evm.ee) has this kasutus/juhend or set of instructions posted on its swing by the sea.

The translation might not be the smoothest in spots, but gets the message across: Kiikumine omal vastutusel! – Swing at your own risk! Ära tee suurt hoogu – Don't get carried away with pushing and swinging too high. Hoia tugevasti kinni – Hold on tight. Arvesta teistega – Be considerate. Kuni 8 inimest – There's room for up to 8 people. Swingers get the kiik moving by taking turns squatting and standing; those on one side and then the other. See also: kiiking, a sport where the swinger is fastened to the (solo) swing's base by their feet; the swing's arms are made of steel to enable a person to swing 360 degrees going over the spindle of the swing (üle võlli).

A traditional Estonian küla/kiik or village swing at the Eesti Vabaõhumuuseum with a pole for each child to hold onto. US-Estonian artist Kristina Paabus built a similar swing as a practical sculptural collaboration with artist Matt Nichols at the ACRE Artists' Residency in Steuben Wisconsin last July. That kiik got a huge push (suure hoo) thanks to getting funded on Kickstarter; the Estonian equivalent of which is Hoo/andja – to give the hoog (kick, push, impetus or oomph) needed to bring an idea to fruition (www.hooandja.ee).) This is how Kristina described a külakiik: "It's a large, wooden, multi-person swing, fitting anywhere from two to eight (and often more) people at a time. This type of swing is a traditional Estonian structure and well-known pastime that harkens back to Estonians' pagan roots and appreciation of communal outdoor activities. Due to the country’s far north location, the winters are cold and dark. This harsh environment has led Estonians to have a deep gratitude for summer and the brief period of white nights it brings. The swing offers a platform for interaction as well as an opportunity to be outside together. While travelling through the Estonian countryside, it is not uncommon to regularly come across a külakiik… and then stop to enjoy it."     

Riina Kindlam, Tallinn

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