“For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbours and laugh at them in our turn?” asked the British novelist Jane Austen. When searching for a nation who would match this description the best, Estonians would be clear favourites.
Although Estonians actually have a lot of respect for their neighbours. Thanks to the Finns, Estonians were able to get a few “real” treats during the Soviet occupation – when Finnish friends visited, they brought along chewing gum, Coca-Cola, jeans and other wonders of the free world, which Estonians had only heard of.
But Estonians can also be a little bit envious of the Finns. This is because our northern neighbours have always had better luck than the Estonians – they didn’t have to put up with Russian occupation or anything. While Estonians where stuck serving overseers from the Kremlin, Finns were free to enjoy capitalism and economic growth. Prior to the World War II, Estonian economy had been in better state than that of Finland, or at least that’s what Estonians like reiterating at every chance they get, but Russians took hold of Estonia and did everything in their power to rid the locals of their industriousness. At the same time the Finns, however, were doing better than ever. This is likely the main reason why Estonians – especially after a few drinks – love to talk smack about the Finns behind their back; they wouldn’t dare to say anything to their face though. After all, we are brother nations.