Crossing Obstacles on the Same Side When in Groups

Background: My informant, HS, is a 52-year-old professor at USC. She was born and raised in Estonia and moved to the United States when she was twenty. Her mother and father were both physicians in Soviet Estonia. Even though she no longer lives in Estonia, she still stays connected with Estonian tradition through her involvement with the Los Angeles Estonian House and still speaks the Estonian language with family and friends. She also happens to be my mother.

Context: One lunch, during quarantine, I decided to sit down and interview my mother about interesting Estonian folklore she was aware of and has experienced.

Main Piece:

“If you are in a group of people, or even two people, and you come to a post of any kind, you have to cross on the same side so that there will be nothing that comes in between your relationship to splinter the relationship. So it avoids conflict or, y’know, teaches you or makes sure that if you have conflict you resolve it in a way that you stay in a relationship.”

Interpretation: This is essentially a superstition to avoid bad relationships. I have never noticed this when I visited Estonia but I am sure that people were doing this as they were walking down the street. It seems that if a group of people split up to go around some kind of post in the street, whether it be a mail box or stop sign, it reflects a breaking of bond in a sense and a reflection of a dysfunctional relationship. My personal interpretation is that many Estonians likely believe in some kind of bond or energy that unifies groups. If a group splits up to walk around an obstacle, then the group is no longer unified and the group relationship will likely go south.