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sokkYou're dear (to me). Will you be my Valentine and stand on my mätas (chunk of sod / turf) alongside me? In matching socks? An Estonian's perspective is often described as being from oma mätta otsast – seen from atop his/her piece of sod.


Good thing there's the Suva soki/vabrik (sock factory) – since 1919! Otherwise you'd be hard pressed to find any sokid (socks) or põlv/sukad aka põlvikud (knee highs) with writing in Estonian, or sukad (stockings) reflecting the striped patterns of Estonian folk costume skirts and other traditional ornamentation. In recent years, Suva has produced sokid bearing animals of the Chinese lunar calendar.


Ahvi/aasta (the year of the monkey) comes to mind, from my own soki/sahtel (sock drawer) with a monkey face on the toes and the text "Ahvi järele!" (Monkey (mimic) me!). Special socks for Father's Day (the first Sunday in November in Estonia and the Nordic countries) are still for sale, such as Armsale issile (For my dear daddy) and Parim isa (the best father).

The original Suva factory building on Põhja puiestee in Tallinn by the Balti jaam train station is slowly being renovated as the new home of the Estonian Academy of Arts; the EKA Rauaniidi hoone (building). Designed by architect Eugen Habermann in 1926, it was one of the first examples of Functionalistic architecture in Estonia.


The original name of the company was "Raua/niit" (iron thread) and started off manufacturing shoelaces.

Suva has now moved its manufacturing to Tallinn’s Mustamäe neighborhood. They have 3 stores in the capital and 1 in Tartu, in my opinion the best place to get practical and unique gifts for friends abroad. They also have an e-pood an online shop (www. and you can have your own text printed on socks. Õ, Ä, Ö and Ü are not a problem. Head sõbra-/päeva, Happy “Friend Day”, although I prefer to keep the Valentine in Valentinipäev.

How many Valentines are there in Eesti? If you have an Estonian ID card and digital card reader, you can access the name statistics registry within the state portal and search a nimede statistika päring (name statistics request/query). The figures reflecting the number of people currently living in Estonia with the following names are: Valentin 1224 (males); Valentine 62; Valentiine 7; Valentiina 15 and Valentina 9318. Most of the people with these names derived from St. Valentinius, are either of Russian heritage and/or Eastern Orthodox faith. There are 323 women named Valli, the Estonian derivative of the name.


Photo and text:

Riina Kindlam, Tallinn


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