The Pencil: A Symbol of Estonia’s National Heritage

EstoniaThe Pencil: A Symbol of Estonia’s National Heritage

Several days ago, NPR’s All Things Considered featured a story (link opens audio story in new window) by Planet Money‘s Chana Joffee-Walt about Estonia joining the Euro Zone and consequently, adopting the Euro as their currency. Because of that, they must give up the kroon, their previous national currency. And although Estonians (for the most part) are glad to be joining the EU, their currency is a source of national pride.

Says Joffe-Walt:

The currency was introduced in 1991 after Estonia gained independence from the Soviet Union, and became a symbol of independence.

(Click through for the full story!)

Mihkel Raud, writer and judge on Estonian Idol, remembers when he held his first kroons. “That’s probably the very moment when I realized, hey, we are living in an independent country,” he says.

On the last day that Estonians could buy something with the krone, one man thought long and hard about what to get. He wanted something that he could pass to his grandchildren, something that he could present to them and say, “this I bought with Estonia’s OWN currency.

What did he buy?

Pencils.

Joffe-Walt asked, “why pencils?”

They represent language and the arts, [he] says. And he wants to be able to tell his grandchildren they were bought with Estonian money.

This is what we’ve been saying all along. With pencils, you have a tool to express your creativity and individuality. You can write the next great American (or Estonian) novel. You can sketch a portrait of the next President. You can doodle in the margins of your school textbook (and erase it, thereby avoiding trouble). There are so many things it can do for you, that many, including John Steinbeck and Ernest Hemingway, often pick up a pencil just to feel inspired.

What better way to express Estonia’s national individuality by buying pencils?

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