Written 2010, before event:

Hundreds of Bonfires to be Lit on Estonian Coastline for Night of Ancient Bonfires

28 August 2010 (BNS

This is the second time Estonians calls for the people to take part in the event Night of Ancient Bonfires. Organizers have called for the fires to be lit at 8:30 p.m. Estonian time.

For the second time in a row Estonia will be taking part in the Night of Ancient Bonfires initiative, during which people are invited to light a bonfire or a candle on the coast of the Baltic Sea on the night of the last Saturday of August.
The goal is to cover the coastline with bonfires in such way that from each place at least two other fires can be seen.

In 2009, the first time the whole Estonian people took part in the tradition that got its start in Finland and Hiiumaa 1992, hundreds of bonfires were lit along the Estonian coastline.

As of 2 p.m. on Saturday, 223 bonfires and 12310 participants had been registered on the event's Estonian website. A map on the website shows the coastlines of Harju County, which includes the capital Tallinn, and of Pärnu County in southwestern Estonia as getting the greatest number of fires. Fires are also to be lit on lakesides in places situated as far from the sea as Kallaste, Põlva, Elva and Otepää.

A post on the website says that on the isle of Keri, which has no trees and to where transportation of firewood is complicated, a group of people will illuminate the local lighthouse, the oldest in the Gulf of Finland, with flashlights during the whole night.

The Night of Ancient Bonfires was originally an initiative to mark the 75th independence anniversary of Finland in 1992, also invited some friends in Estonian islands. In the years after that it lived on, especially in the archipelago of southwestern Finland, as a local and communal farewell to summer. By now the tradition has spread to all countries situated on the Baltic Sea and its goal is to show the unity of coastal people and pay tribute to history and cultural heritage.

In ancient times bonfires along the Baltic coast were lit to warn of dangers. The earliest written reports of conveying messages by means of bonfires date from the time of the Vikings, when a united system of warning extended from the sea to the inland. Each community was under obligation to make its contribution to the system by lighting and keeping a bonfire, and strict punishment was applied for not fulfilling the duty.