Thousands of Years Ago...

It is believed that thousands of years ago, the Finno-Ugric tribes had not yet become distinct and spoke the same language. Over time, they settled in various places, and new nations and cultures sprang up – today we call them Finno-Ugric peoples. A special island of Seto language and culture took root over thousands of years in the southeasternmost corner of the Republic of Estonia, partially extending into Russia. No one knows the exact dates, but it is certain that the strains of the oldest Seto songs are informed by the Finno-Ugric way of life and world view as they existed in deepest antiquity.

For centuries, Christianity was the greatest influence on the Setos – and also hardened their resolve to protect and safeguard their heritage. The most intense era of Christianization of the Setos was from 1529-1570 under Kornelius (Kornili) of the Petseri monastery. Yet it appears, on the basis of the extant written sources, that a fairly large number of Setos followed the traditions of Christianity merely out of the sense of duty and that the old beliefs and the age-old wisdom of the peasantry held greater sway as late as the 19th century.