Oral tradition

Oral tradition is a sub-domain of intangible cultural heritage that manifests in our language, thoughts, and speech and is passed on through face-to-face interaction. It serves as a bridge between generations and is often so inherent that we might completely overlook its expression in our daily lives.

The oral tradition includes many expressions, such as stories, proverbs, riddles, fables, legends, myths, songs, spells, prayers, healing spells, local and family traditions, expressions, and many other phenomena that have been passed on by word of mouth over generations.

Oral tradition reflects our self-identity, how we experience the world, how we carry on the wisdom of previous generations, and the stories we pass along.

We will happily visit schools, kindergartens, libraries, or other events to introduce oral tradition, intangible cultural heritage, and storytelling to children and adults.


Storytelling is an effective form of oral tradition. As an activity, it is as old as humanity and relies on the experience of creating an image. The storyteller has had a special status in many cultures. He or she is a welcome guest in any company and has often had to take the role of a community’s spiritual guardian. Storytelling brings people together; listening to and telling stories is essential.

For example, stories and tales have been told simply for pastime and entertainment, but often stories have also been used as a form of healing and support for those in need. In later times, storytelling has become an essential part of stage activities, audiovisual arts, and games. However, storytelling as a necessary form of living heritage has also persisted as the stories told here and now, stories that change a little each time and come alive for the storyteller and listeners gathered together.

STORY ARCHIVE (JUTUPANK) is a platform on which the Estonian Centre of Folk Culture has published a collection of Estonian folk tales in sound, video, and text to inspire people to look up stories and encourage them to tell their own.