Estonian Wallet Gifting

Background: The informant is a 51 year-old Estonian immigrant who lives in Los Angeles. She continues to participate in Estonian traditions and is a part of the “Estonian House” which is an Estonian community that resides in LA.

Context: The folklore was collected on a scheduled Zoom meeting in which I interviewed two native Estonians who immigrated to the United States and are close friends.

Main Piece: “When you give a wallet as a gift to someone, we believed to never give an empty wallet. Always put a little bit of money in it. Like even if it’s a couple of coins. You know for obvious reasons, because then more money will come in.”

Interpretation: This Estonian gift-giving superstition is another way of ensuring good luck for the future. Many of the Estonian gift-giving superstitions I am aware of deal heavily with good luck in the future when it comes to some form of material item. Insecurity it comes to money and food are both things that Estonians seem to be worried about from the various gift-giving customs I have been told about. However, this makes complete sense because Estonia is in no way known for a history of wealth and prosperity. Estonian history is one of subjugation and conquer. This is why many Estonian superstitions reflect an anxiety surrounding whether or not there will be plentiful food or money in the future.