Archive for December, 2018

On Saturday afternoon, December 8, 2018, about 55 members of the Estonian Society of Central Florida (Kesk Florida Eesti Selts (KFES)) gathered at the beautiful home of Kaie Põhi Latterner in North Redington Beach (FL) to celebrate a traditional Estonian Christmas. Well almost. A white ibis, Santa’s Florida navigator, guided Jõuluvana to Kaie’s home (can you spot him on the roof?), which is located about a block away from a white sandy beach. The weather was spectacular with 80 degrees and a clear blue sky. We filled Kaie’s home to the brim and, thankfully, we were able to spread outside to the beautiful poolside and waterside setting. Once the sun set, hardy members gathered fireside. Palm trees instead of pine trees swayed in the background.

Jõuluvana visits Kesk Florida Eesti Selts. 8. dets. 2018. N Redington Beach, FL. Foto: Erkki Taada

We welcomed Jõuluvana with song. Children delighted in his arrival. At first, Santa needed to wait patiently for the first daring child to come forward. And things rolled easily from there. Our hostesses serenaded Jõuluvana with their own special song, Living in a Florida Wonderland, sung of course to the tune of Walking in a Winter Wonderland. We’ll be adding that special song to our song sheet next year. What fun that was! At the end, Jõuluvana was quite moved when Chloe Cabrera presented him with special thank-you gifts.

We had a fabulous turnout for this favorite KFES event. In fact, our luncheon was sold out. We were especially delighted to be joined again by our I-4 warriors, our two Orlando members–Moonika Mägi and Helen Tammela–who are undeterred by the drive. Aino and Ants Tompson once again made the drive from Naples; thank you! Paavo Känd joined us from Gulfport. Our newer members Ludmila Stelmokene and Hannes Jakobson joined us once again too and jumped into our festivities. Astrid Normet, who joined KFES in November with her husband Heinar, brought new energy into our sing alongs. In fact, Hannes Jakobson was quite taken by all the extra verses sung by the ladies to “Ma vaatsin paadist kiikriga, kui kaugel on see Saaremaa.” Everyone added fabulous voices to our group songs. And we were pleased to welcome first-timer Sindi Haller.

And these very special guests were introduced to our group by Sunne Säre and Märten Vaikmaa: Sunne’s sister Betti Säre and Külliki and Jaan Piliste. Another friend of our group, Sigrid Bratic, busy with her children accomplished in dance and spearfishing, joined us about dessert time. As we know, Sigrid is the founder of the fabulously successful Little Greek Restaurant franchise, and Külliki and Jaan are new owners in Spring Hill (FL). When in the area there, please stop in!

KFES extends a HUGE thank-you to three extraordinary women who made this event so special. Kaie Põhi Latterner once again generously opened her home to our group. Anneliis Kuusik and Virve Kai Bulla were tireless in executing all the complicated logistics. Eric Cabrera figured out how to fit 20 cars into no more than 4 neighboring driveways; what a feat that was! We also thank our members for all their special contributions. Verivorst was contributed from those making our traditional Christmas sausage in the kitchens of Maare Kuuskvere and Kaie Põhi Latterner. Homemade kapsapirukas was made according to Urve Põhi’s secret recipe. Homemade piparkoogid came from Anneliis, Maare and Virve Kai; and Anneliis once again made her delicious cranberry sauce and sauerkraut (two separate dishes, of course!). A fabulous baker, Virve Kai made our traditional kringle-kolane sai and chocolate fudge. Special treats came from the Vaikmaa kitchen: traditional Estonian sauerkraut and a non-traditional chocolate cake with sauerkraut as its special ingredient. While our roast pork main course came from our favorite German deli, these homemade touches mentioned and additional delicious contributions made this a special traditional eesti jõululõunasöök. All of this was graced by the blessing offered by our own Pastor Priit Rebane.

We started at 2:00 pm. What time did this revelry all end? Well, after some more singing accompanied by Kaie on the accordion and quiet time over drinks seated around the outdoor fire pit, the word is our last guest went home about 10:00 pm. That broke last year’s record. Take a look at our gallery of photos. We hope this will encourage you to join us next year! In the meantime, we wish you häid pühi!

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